Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease


“Tell me about memories. I don’t have them anymore.”

                                                                                 — My Angel Mother

May 1, 1981

I’m having my first baby any day now. I’m so excited! I’m going to be a mother! I’m so scared! I’m going to be a mother! I’m so excited! My mother is coming to help! I can’t wait!!!

Two weeks later:

Mom almost skipped into my hospital room, she was so excited to see our new baby boy. Oh, how he took her breath away, he was so beautiful! We spent a wonderful week together and Mom took care of everything!

Nineteen months later:

It’s Christmas. My second child is 10 days old. Mom and Dad flew up to see our new son and spend Christmas with us. Strangely, Mom doesn’t know it’s Christmas. She doesn’t comprehend that I have a new baby and that she is his grandmother. She’s not helping in any way. In fact, she is the one in need of help.

And there began the slow and steady decline of my angel mother.

It has been said, “When the heart weeps for what is lost, the spirit laughs for what is found.”

I don’t know what Mother’s spirit has learned through this experience,

but I am confident that the rest of us have been given opportunity to develop divine virtues.

December 15, 1989

I just washed Mother’s face and tucked her into bed. It’s an unusual role reversal . . . I remember so well when she used to tuck me into bed and I would beg her to lie down with me for “just a few minutes.” And now she begs me to stay with her. I promise I will be back in “just a few minutes,” but first I have three children who need my attention. They want to be tucked in, too. And so, for the next few weeks I am mother to four children—three that I bore, and one that bore me.

She wiped my bottom . . .now I wipe hers. She bathed and dressed me . . . now I bathe and dress her. She fixed and fed me my meals . . . now I fix and feed her her meals. She taught me to have patience . . . now I try to be patient with her. She taught me to love . . . now I return that love in ways she will never understand – at least in this life. Or will she?

She seems to understand love in a very childlike way – a pure way. She senses goodness and charity in others and responds appreciatively and affectionately. Tonight as I put her to bed she turned and hugged and kissed me and thanked me for being so kind and for all the nice things I had done for her. “I don’t know who you are or why you are doing this for me, but thank you for being so kind to me,” she said.   She couldn’t remember or identify what things I had done – but she could feel them. She doesn’t know me and she asks if I know who she is. In her mind we are total strangers; in her heart we are best friends. She depends on me for everything; she trusts everything I say; she mimics everything I do; she feels security in my presence and fear when she is alone. She looks into my face – or perhaps my eyes – and she appears confused, yet there is something familiar about me – something deeply familiar. Is it me—her daughter? Or is it my spirit – her sister?

I just cry and I don’t know if these tears are for her or for me and those of us who watch her deteriorate and wither away. We miss her so much. In that shell of a body is a spirit crying to live. In that shell is the memory of my sweet mother. I wish she could know how much she means to me.

October 1997

We buried Mom today. She is my angel – in life and in death. I love you, Mom!

Over the years, as I have struggled with life and trying to raise my four children, how often I have longed for my mother — to be encouraged by her loving words and embraced in the strength of her arms. How often I have stood alone in the shower, weeping for her plight and my own, while my pain and tears flowed silently down the drain. How often I’ve wanted to share with her the accomplishments of my children, the joys of my life, things I’ve made, music I’ve learned, callings I’ve had in the church, and so much more. Oh, how I have missed her! Yet oh how grateful I am for the legacy she left me:


suffereth long, and is kind . . .

beareth all things

believeth all things,

hopeth all things,

endureth all things.

Charity never faileth.

(1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

 Dorothy fixed_for doc


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See also: Mormon Tea Episode 7 – Fill My Cup With Memories

Lib Marsh, a woman caring for her husband with early- onset dementia, shares how she copes with the unpredictable challenges of each day. Where does she turn for peace? What “fills her cup?” Her answers will surprise and inspire you.

See also: Aging in the 21st Century

Dr. Byron Bair of the University of Utah Medical Center discusses aging in the 21st century and the effects it can have on each of us physically,emotionally, and spiritually. (Source: Insights, The Mormon Channel)

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