The tears force from my eyes though I fight to hold them back. My Mom changes into dry diapers and clothes, ashamed that she may have wet the seat of my car. I don’t care about the seats of my car and I relax a bit as I realize that my Mom will quickly forget these events. I realize that one day, she will forget me. But not yet. Not yet.
Walking down the beautiful hall to her suite, that we call her apartment, it occurred to me that she would pass away while a resident of this hall. It is a very nice place, but it is still a last stop nursing home; assisted living, whatever. It is, her last home.
The love lived by my Mom knows no bounds. All that I learned early in life about love I learned in our family; the family born through her blood, sweat and tears. The family held together by her wisdom, her work and her will; and the family that one day, must carry on without her.
My tears run for what must come. We remember even as she forgets. Our names that she barely recalls now, will one day claim space on a stone marker like hers. Eileen Stenner Kendrick – a girl born to Ellen Jane Robinson, mistakenly thought to be Nellie Black, of Belfast, Ireland, and Camden, New Jersey and Franz Joseph Stenner of Koenigstein, Germany and Camden, New Jersey. On a great day, May 7, 1923, Eileen entered this world and on a sad day to come, she will leave us. She will join her Lord and Savior Jesus on that day and we will rejoice.
As dinner time rolled by and I just wanted to stay with her, I turned on NCIS which has been her favorite TV show. Over the last 3 years we have watched 9 years of reruns on DVD over and over and over again. And each time the next episode came on she would say, “I’ve never seen this one before.” Alzheimers is like that. While at her apartment I found a note that she left for the workers in the facility… it is written by her beautiful though somewhat shaky hands, “Please, please, please don’t take any more clothes. I just have enough to work in decently. Eileen. All were given to me by our loved ones because they were needed.” She does not remember that she hid those clothes, or boxed them up and sent them away with us, or had other friends take them to prevent them from being stolen. She has forgotten.
One day, it’s possible that I will forget just as my mother has. But for now, dinner won’t wait and the tears collect, then fall. As we walk back down the hall together, I lean down to her and quietly say, “I love you mom.” She tells me she loves me more than I will ever know – and I can be assured of that. For that moment, she was right there again.
I will spend as much time as I can with mom, and with my mother- in -law. Love them where they are, while you can. Learn from the experience of others, call your mom. You’ll be glad you did. God Bless.