Follow us, as Elizabeth Murray tells the moving story of her mother’s battle with dementia. In this blog series, Murray explores every part of the experience of caring for someone with dementia, sharing her memories and insights from it all. Her words serve as a great reminder of the many ways dementia affects our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.”
I was pregnant when I first read I’ll Love You Forever, Robert Munsch’s book about the unconditional love between a mother and her son. I didn’t yet appreciate the bond I would have with my own child but the story brought me to tears as I thought about my relationship with my mother. I vowed that I would always care for her just as she had cared for me.
I couldn’t have imagined what would happen twelve years later.
Shortly after she was diagnosed with dementia, my mother’s driver’s license was suspended. As she waited for me to review the Notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles, she sat on the couch in her living room, her arms wrapped tightly around her body.
“It’s just not right,” she sobbed. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
When I was young, I frequently woke in the middle of the night and imagined that a burglar had broken into the house and was creeping towards my bedroom. I would call my mother and she would comfort me until I fell back asleep.
I wished that I could chase away her sorrow as easily as she had chased away my fears.
As my mother’s disease progressed, caring for her became a challenge. I was terribly hurt when she said that she wanted nothing more to do with me and I resented that she interpreted everything I did as acts of malicious intent. Sometimes, I was relieved when she wouldn’t let me into her house and I didn’t have to confront her. I constantly worried that I was breaking the vow I had made so many years before.
Enough time has passed that I now know I did the best I could in those difficult circumstances. I also know that the bond I had with my mother was strong, and that despite how our relationship changed, our love for each other never wavered.
I still think of my mother whenever I read I’ll Love You Forever.
“For as long as I’m living, my Mommy she’ll be.”
Retired lawyer and the author of Holding on to Mamie: My Mother, Dementia and Me.
For more information about Elizabeth and her story visit www.holdingontomamie.ca.