18 Mar As long as I’m living, my Mommy you’ll be
by Claire Poirier
My mum was one of my best friends. Every morning she would walk into my room, wake me up and I would sit on her lap as she brushed my hair. Then at night, she would read me a story or we would chat about our days, and on many occasions she would fall asleep right next to me in my bed. Jane and I shared one of the most precious bonds of my childhood; we were so similar, which is why we got along so well.
When I was in grade nine, we got the life changing news. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. At that time we all knew the end result as my grandfather passed alway peacefully, just two years prior. We lived in denial for a couple years, hoping it was menopause that was getting the best of her, but she knew deep down that wasn’t it. I spent that entire summer with her up at my cottage, she was extremely depressed, and there was nothing I could do. Looking back I wish I put my selfish adolescence ways behind me and talked to her more during the time that she was still lucid.
Our relationship has changed dramatically over the past five years, there isn’t a day I don’t wish that I still had a mother, someone who could have gone prom dress shopping with me, got me through a break up, or helped me with university decisions. Now the tables have turned, right now she needs me more then I ever needed her. Alongside my sister, we have been put into the position of her mother. We are the ones who now brush her hair, tell her stories, and put her to sleep.
I know for both Carolyn and I moving back home during our early adulthood was not ideal, but it was something that had to be done. Carolyn and I have gone through a lot in the past, but being put through this oppressive disease has only been a testament to our strength. I know at times we both feel we need to fill the void of a mother for each other, but it’s something no one could do. Though this situation is far from ideal I could not feel luckier to have my sister and Dad with me every step of the way. We really have tried everything we could to help Jane, and we are so fortunate that we have had the means to do so.
Memory Ball has changed my life, though I only became apart of it this past year, it has finally given me the strength to tell people what I am going through. Before this past year, some of my best friends didn’t even know about my mother, I thought keeping it a secret preserved her integrity. I probably should have told them earlier, but it was something that I had to come to terms with on my own. Jane would have been extremely proud of the work that Carolyn has done, and I hope one day Carolyn realizes that.
The final stages of the disease are definitely the worst, it is getting harder for her to communicate her thoughts and I wish there was something I could do to help her through this, unfortunately there is nothing. We need events like Memory Ball to be podiums for people to talk about Alzheimer’s, specifically early onset. That being said, in the next 5 years it will affect more then 50% of Canadian families. Watching my own mother disappear in front of my eyes is something I hope no one will ever go through. We need a cure, and soon. Once that cure happens, I will be overjoyed knowing that I contributed to that by being apart of this event.
I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my family’s favourite childhood books I’ll Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.
“Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, “You’d better come see me because I’m very old and sick.” So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always…
But she couldn’t finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
my Mommy you’ll be.”