This Thanksgiving was especially difficult for me because of my Mom’s regressing health. It was an incredibly exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I haven’t talked much about it out of respect for her, and for my family’s, privacy. But with many aware by now, it feels like the appropriate time to discuss it, and it’s healthy to be open about your struggles rather than feel ashamed.
In the summer of 2019, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s which is the most common form of dementia, and unfortunately this disease is on the rise and becoming more common. No two people are affected by any disease in the same exact way. My grandpa, who I remember very well before his passing in 2004, was a quiet man who would withdraw and zone out during family gatherings — usually I put on dance and music shows for him and yelled at him when he wasn’t paying attention, haha. On the other hand, my mom has always had a lot of anxiety which has now become extreme to the point where she cannot sit still for more than five minutes and must be constantly on-the-go, adding more stress to an already taxingly stressful situation. She now requires long drives, long walks, going up and down the stairs a hundred times, and being in a room for no more than five minutes before walking to another room, etc. From wake-up to bedtime, there is absolutely no rest — no room for simple tasks such as taking a shower or even loading dishes into the dishwasher, as she will break down without constant stimulation. I do not think anyone is able to understand how tiring this is until they have actually been in this exact situation. At first she was still able to travel and be on her own for a bit, but it has been this way since the start of 2020. It’s been hard to visit her with quarantine restrictions, but I am video-chatting her every day.
Now I do not want my mom to be defined by a disease. As consuming as it has been, she is so much more than that. Let me tell you (or remind you, if you already know) about this wonderful woman!
My mom is the reason I kept up with my writing. I was going through a very hard time towards the end of high school and she advised me to write a story about everything I was going through, to rewrite it on my own terms, to feel a sense of control over what was happening to me. And I still follow that advice to this day. When I started this blog she was incredibly enthused about it and as soon as I posted something she would read it immediately and then tell me her positive thoughts about it. She loved when I began posting poetry. Her favorite poem was “Fire” and unfortunately probably the last piece of writing I made that she was able to fully comprehend. The last post I recall her commenting on was my Fashion in the 2010s which I wrote in December 2019 — she was really excited about the “inclusivity” part, and the part about jeans finally going out of style. I am so thankful that she was there at the start of this blog supporting me, and I know that if she could see where I am right now, she would be beyond proud.
My mom’s number one priority in life has always been being a mother. If there’s a baby around, she’d be the first one to hold it. No parent is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, but her intentions were always positive. We got into many fights during my childhood but she was always the first one to apologize, even though it should’ve been me. Nothing made her more upset than knowing her kid was frustrated. You can see from her old journals that being a mother was her greatest goal, pride, and achievement in life — simple as that.
My mom was a Girl Scout Leader for my sister’s troop AND for my own troop. Being a girl scout leader requires a great amount of time, energy, planning, traveling, creativity, patience, and dedication. She researched crafts and activities, bought supplies, organized volunteer work, and held meetings every week. She didn’t get paid for this, she did it all out of sheer love for her daughters, her daughter’s friends, and for young girls in general. Even if I had quit girl scouts, she would’ve continued being a leader because she loved to inspire young girls, to give them confidence and encourage them to grow up to be strong women. My mom also volunteered at a hospital, at my school’s snack bar, and more — she loved to help others.
My mom has always been a huge music lover, a singer and dancer, and possibly the biggest fan of my mixed CDs. She loved pop music and insisted I keep her up to date on all the latest music trends. She was always like, “I never wanna be that person who’s stuck on the oldies, I wanna keep up with the times!” Here are some of her favorites:
- Sugar — Maroon 5 (and everything else by Maroon 5)
- Closer — The Chainsmokers (and all their other songs)
- Ed Sheeran songs
- The Man — The Killers
- Stayin Alive — Capital Cities
- Kangaroo Court — Capital Cities
- Move — Saint Motel
- Love on the Weekend — John Mayer
- Good Grief — Bastille
- Rather Be — Clean Bandit
- Scars to Your Beautiful — Alessia Cara
- Ahead of Myself — X Ambassadors
- Attention — Charlie Puth
- Blank Space — Taylor Swift
- Feel So Close — Calvin Harris
- Teenage Dream — Katy Perry
- Hey Ya! — Outkast
- Yeah! — Usher
- Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
- Slide — Goo Goo Dolls
Of course there were many classics from her day, from 70s rock to broadway numbers, that I’m missing. If you know any she loved then please send them to me.
And here is an old post I wrote for her that also describes her well.
My mom is still here and her soul is still going strong and her passion is lively. With quarantine restrictions and her current state, it’s not ideal for many to visit her right now. But please remember she is here. Do not hesitate to reach out to me, or my family, even with something as simple as “sending you good thoughts.” Please send me photos, stories, any other memories that have to do with her. Send videos or texts or emails. There is no “awkwardness” or “sensitivity” with this subject. If you lost contact with my mom a very long time ago, but knew her well at some point, please reach out just to say that you knew her. There’s no need for avoidance. My mom has always been huge social butterfly with many groups of friends.
Here are some photos of my mom. If you have any more then please send them to me when you get the chance. She has always been camera shy, but luckily I was able to find many pictures of her — holding babies, hanging with her family, and yelling at someone (hahaha.)