My mom lost the battle with Alzheimer’s last night. My brother was with her and I had just been there to see her. She was doing well at the new nursing home, but she just went into a decline. She was barely there when I saw her so I said my goodbyes. It was time.
With Alzheimer’s, Mom hadn’t really been Mom for the past couple of years. I really feel like I lost her then. My mom was very active politically and very liberal, so for her to have no idea what was going on in the last presidential race was hard. She lived long enough to see history but wasn’t aware of it.
So I prefer to remember my Mom as she was before Alzheimer’s.
My mom was the one woman in a boy’s household. I have two brothers and we did boy stuff. Camping, canoeing, hiking, sports. The toilet seat was always up. My mom just went with it. When I was little I just assumed that all moms liked doing boy stuff. Only later did I really I appreciate how much she did for the three of us.
Anyone who got to meet my mom would always say the same thing to me. “Your mom is so nice”. And she really was. An old friend of mine always referred to her as “three of the nicest people he even met”. People who knew both my mom and my dad would say to me “when you are being nice, that’s your mom, when you are being a smart-ass, that’s your dad”. Oversimplified, but fairly accurate.
She could even drive you crazy with niceness. I had this conversation with my mom about a thousand times over the course of my life:
“Steve, do you want anything to eat?” “No, Mom, I’m not hungry” “How about some cheese and crackers” “No thanks” “I have Doritos” “No mom, I said I’m not hungry” “Ice cream?” “No thanks” “Grapes?” “Mom…”
My mom could mix in with any crowd. One of my favorite memories was when I was first working as a programmer in NYC. My dad had recently passed away so Mom would come visit by herself. She’d arrive around 4:00, take a cab downtown and meet me at the office. And then she’d go out with me and the work gang. My mom, with a pint of Guinness, hanging out with 20 and 30 year olds. Very cool.
My mom even connected with my wife’s step mother, Indiana. Indiana barely speaks English and my mom barely speaks Spanish, but they still connected.
I remember Danielle visiting her in Milwaukee when Mom was still living by herself (before the Alzheimer’s was bad). Mom would play with her endlessly and Danielle loved it. In hindsight, early Alzheimer’s and a three year old attention span are a pretty good match.
She just had a way of connecting with anyone. That was her most special gift. And she was a great mom. I love her and miss her.