In May of 2003, at age 62, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My mother was diagnosed as being in the severe stage of Alzheimer's. There were extreme changes with my mother that very quickly resulted in her inability to continue to live alone. By September 2003, I had moved back to my childhood home to take care of my mother.
The new job I had begun just 6-months prior in Washington, DC, I had to quit and find employment locally. I quickly realized that my life was now centered on the care of my mother first and foremost. Collectively, this change also impacted my teenage sons and the relationship between me, my siblings, and other family members.
In addition to the rapid changes, I experienced in my personal life, at the same time decisions regarding daily care for my mother were being made. My mother’s cognitive abilities were declining rapidly which required 24/7 care.
Even though I have three other siblings, my life experienced the greatest disruption. I gave up my place of residence, changed my son’s school, quit my job resulting in income loss. Changes had to be made within my mom’s house to accommodate her needs, my sons, and mine. Finances had to be managed, 24/7 care had to be established including cost.
What I quickly realized was that every moment in time presented multiple unknowns, no direction, and clarity was non-existent. There were many questions and very few answers. The biggest challenges were the ones yet to come. Why, because there was no ideal way to prepare for the unknown.
The entire 13-year experience included anomalies on a regular and consistent basis. I experienced pain, devastation, fear, frustration, anger, defeat, and helplessness. I felt my life was being invaded beyond my control. The uncertainties in my life were constant.
However, once I came to terms with my new situation, I was able to reset and get my life back on track. I began to feel hope, resolution, thankfulness, memories, growth, and appreciation again. I reclaimed my life while still being committed to the ongoing care for my mom. I realized that by showing up for myself, I became a better caretaker for my mother.
When my mother passed away in September 2015, I knew without a doubt that I had given her my best. And I was still thriving in my own life. My experience may have been a hiccup but not a roadblock in my life, for which I am very grateful.
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