“When my mom was a teenager, she over-plucked her eyebrows and they never really grew back. For as long as I can remember, she would draw them on with an eyebrow pencil and they always looked flawless.
As her Alzheimer’s progressed, she began having trouble drawing on her eyebrows. Something she had done every day without even thinking about it was now a difficult and unfamiliar task. She began obsessing over it.
We tried hiding her eyebrow pencil from her—hoping she would stop stressing about it—but she asked for a new one as soon as she couldn’t find it.
One day I went over to my parents’ house to pick my mom up to go out somewhere. When I arrived, I found her upstairs in her bathroom, checking her appearance in the mirror.
She turned toward me and asked, ‘Do my eyebrows look okay?’
I tried to keep a neutral expression on my face as I examined hers.
She had drawn her eyebrows on so dark and so thick I knew I could not let her go out looking like that. But I also knew it would absolutely crush her if I told her how ridiculous her eyebrows looked.
I felt an all-too familiar pang in my heart as the reality of the situation sunk in. My poor, sweet, innocent mom. She was trying so hard to put herself together. She was trying so hard to hold on to this one small piece of herself.
It broke my heart.
I didn’t want to break hers, too, by telling her the truth. But I also didn’t want to embarrass her by allowing her to go out looking like that, even if she would have never known the difference.
So, I held back my feelings and simply said, ‘They’re a little dark. Here, let me fix them for you.’
I wet a washcloth, put some soap on it, and began to wipe her eyebrows off a little until they looked better.
She thanked me for helping her and we headed out for the day.
When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, no one told me something as simple as an eyebrow pencil would have the ability to break my heart someday.
No one tells you all the little things you will encounter along this journey. There is no way to know how to handle every situation. There is no way to be prepared for it all.
But if you have kindness, empathy, compassion, patience, and love, then you are on the right track.
One day at a time.
One dilemma at a time.
One eyebrow pencil at a time.
Alzheimer’s will break your heart in ways you never thought possible.
Just try not to let it break your loved one’s, too.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Dykovitz of New Jersey. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Lauren here:
‘Someone’s sitting here.’ I froze. ’Mom, it’s ME. Lauren.’ Her cheeks became red with embarrassment.’: Young woman’s emotional journey with mom’s Alzheimer’s, ‘It’s like mourning someone who is still alive’
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