Visit with Mom

Last weekend, I went to NY to visit my parents. It was really nice to see my Mom. I have found myself to be extremely tired following visits with Mom. I realize how emotionally exhausting it is to see her, not completely in a bad way, in some ways good, but overall very overwhelming.

My mom has been living with Alzheimer’s for the past couple years, and just recently has moved into a care facility. Due to the pandemic, this is actually the first time I was allowed in the home. It’s much different than the one that I used to visit my grandpa at as a child. It’s very social, as they keep bedroom doors shut during the day and encourage everyone to be with each other. I think that’s so important.

I visited both days. On Saturday when I came in, she was sitting up on the couch with other people. On Sunday, she was washing her hands in the kitchen area and she was very focused to the point that I thought she was cooking something for a moment. I went out with her both days to drive around in the car and go on nature walks.

Seeing her, I feel so many strong emotions, and like I said it’s not all bad. Of course it is sad, upsetting, and certainly strange and confusing. But it’s also this incredible amount of love I have for her that suddenly pours in. Part of her is gone, but the part that remains is so important. Suddenly I feel blessed to be able to look her in the eyes and hold her hand. She is here. She is still here.

When I was younger my mom always wanted to cuddle, she is a very physically affectionate person — and that always made me super uncomfortable. And I would wipe off all her kisses and refuse to let her hold me. But now I want to hold her hand all the time, never let it go. Give her lots of hugs. Rub her back. Squeeze her tight.

It’s very intense emotions. Again, I keep saying it’s good and bad. And I’d rather not dwell on either. I come back and just want to numb my emotions because it takes a physical tole on my body. I could try to drink all the feelings away or turn to other bad habits. But instead I am journaling, I am writing my feelings, I am resting, stretching my muscles, and drinking tea. Just breathing through it. But it is A LOT!

I love my mom so much and it’s hard and scary to love a person that much. I can’t believe I was born to such a wonderful person. She really is the best, in my eyes. I’m extremely overwhelmed by the amount of love I have for her. I’m distraught that I have to watch her slip away. But being able to look at her, touch her, walk with her, it’s powerful.

9 thoughts on “Visit with Mom

  1. Oh Laura, I am so concerned for you, your mom, and your family. I spent so much time with your mother when we were children–holidays at Grandma’s house, birthdays (her favorite birthday cake was angel food with peanut butter icing), vacations at the beach, and visits during the summer. Your grandmother’s funeral was the last time I saw and spoke with your mother. She was already changing personality and manorisms but I enjoyed being with her. I am so happy that you finally got to visit her during this pandemic time. I love the pictures of the two of you out walking. She is not smiling, but she looks peaceful. Keep me posted. I know Nancy goes to visit often.
    Love, Lana

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    1. Yes that sounds about right, she was already a bit different at that point but still high energy. It’s certainly much more different now. Still very active and always wants to walk around or do something. I’m glad to see her always on the move and keeping her energy up. You are right she seems much more peaceful in person. She went through a stage of constant anxiety but now she is much more subdued which is better. I don’t think she is necessarily unhappy, just extremely in her head now and less physically present. Although I was able to make her laugh and smile a few times which was great.

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  2. Alzheimer’s is tough. My grandmother was afflicted by it, and it was hard to see her cognitive functions slip away over the years. Even harder was seeing her confusion when moments of lucidity would follow stretches of incoherence. That self-awareness was heartbreaking, because it was obvious she knew what was happening and was seized by panic. But even at her worst she was still there. She might surface for only a few seconds, or for a minute or two at a time, but she was there.

    I’m glad you got to visit your mom, and that she survived our shitty former governor’s absurd policy of forcing hospitals to return COVID patients back to nursing homes. I’m absolutely sure it made a difference to her, even if she may not always be able to express it.

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    1. That’s extremely accurate. It’s difficult to explain what it feels like to witness someone you love going through it until you actually are put in that position. I am always wondering what exactly is running through her mind now. Indeed it’s like waves where her awareness comes and goes between present and far gone. It’s especially hard timing with COVID and how awful the gov is handling it. Yes I agree that she felt better to see me. I could see the shock on her face followed by instant relief that you feel when you haven’t seen your loved one in a while, so she definitely felt something!

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  3. That is a truly precious thing, to recognize and appreciate that a loved one is “still here” despite a loss. Not that it makes any of this any easier, but I’m glad you are able to find that bright spot rather than focusing entirely on what has changed.

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