‘It was my birthday when she no longer knew my name or who I was.’

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“We usually meet my parents for breakfast Sunday mornings. This morning six of us joined them. As always, they are happy to see everyone. Mom asks if I like her hair. I tell her it looks very nice. She says, ‘No one noticed I got a haircut.’

Me: ‘Actually mom you are getting a haircut tomorrow.’

Mom: ‘Oh.’

A few minutes later…

Mom: ‘Did you notice my haircut?’

Me: ‘I love it Mom.’

They bring her some water in a styrofoam cup with a lid and straw (she does better with lids and straws these days).

Me: ‘Mom, take your pills. Here’s some water.’

Mom: ‘I’m not drinking that. It looks weird.’

Her cups at home are plastic with lids and straws and fun designs. I show her it’s water. Nope, she’s not drinking it. We get her juice and she takes her pills.

I walk her home since the restaurant is a block from their house and it’s easier than loading her and her wheelchair into the car. She picks what side of the road to walk on — it varies each week but she is adamant once she chooses. We go inside and dad is right behind us — he drives the car home. I try to take her coat off but she wants it on. She’ll take it off once she gets home. I tell her we are home. She doesn’t believe me. We visit for a bit and once she is comfortable where she is, she lets me take her coat off.

There is a wall filled with family photos mom wanted hung in their living room next to their sofa so she could see them often. My sister hung them for her about 2 years ago. Today she points at them and says, ‘Look at that wall, what a mess.’ I said, ‘Mom, that’s your family. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.’ She says, ‘Well, it’s a mess and that family is too big.’ I laugh (sometimes I agree about the family size). I imagine she will want those moved in the near future.

I help her into her recliner, lean over and give her a kiss and say, ‘I love you.’ She is quiet. I stay close and wait. Nothing. I am afraid to move. Afraid I won’t hear her say her words to me. I pull away from her cheek and I look at her and she says, ‘I love you too.’

It was my birthday, May 17, 2017, when she no longer knew my name or who I was. I imagine the day I no longer hear her say those words will be a date I will remember also. What I do know is it will not be January 28, 2018. It’s another good day!”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono, 55, of Annville, Pennsylvania. She is chronicling her mother’s dementia journey in a series of posts for Love What Matters:

Family combats mom’s painful dementia journey with humor

‘They are two that have become one’: A day in the life of my mom’s dementia journey

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