Today marks 17 years that my mom has left this world. The second time, not the first. I don’t know the exact day she left the world the first time as it was a slow burn, slowly taking away every memory and every thought she had. Alzeimer’s disease is a bitch. There. I said it. I can sit here and dwell on all the horrible things that it did but the bottom line is, it robbed me of every opportunity to apologize to the mother for the absolutely horrible teenager I was. It robbed my mother of the chance to see that I did actually turn out ok, and because of her, I was a loving mother myself. She didn’t get to see her grandchildren grow and become the wonderful adults that they became. I have felt robbed of my mother my entire adult life, and I have worked hard to let go of that feeling.
I have made a conscious decision though, to not allow “grief” to rule my life. You see, I also lost my father to ALS. Both were equally horrible and devastating. I’ve chosen to try to remember the good and not the bad. Neither one of them was perfect, and I try to remember that they weren’t. They were human. I think that is the best gift I could give myself. I know that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved or remembered. These are the things I do in their memory:
- Laugh. I can still hear my mother’s laugh when I laugh. I was reminded of my father’s laugh by a cousin. He said he could remember my dad coming to visit and having a good laugh with the family. His stories were never dull.
- Think about what they might say at major events, or just every day. Every day. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about them at some point. And that is ok! It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me happy that I have memories of them. Some people are not so lucky.
- Give. I give to the Alzheimer’s Society and to the ALS Society when I can, but I don’t dwell on the fact that they had these diseases, the memory of them with the illness is awful enough. So I also try to volunteer at other organizations and donate to other organizations as well.
- Time. I spend time with my kids. These will be what they have as memories of me. I try to cherish the time we have…every minute. Even if it’s an argument. :). (I have two daughters, there are going to be disagreements) I don’t post about the loss of my mother every year, and I don’t dwell on the fact that she is gone, I
- Smile. My parents wouldn’t have wanted me sitting here crying every year. Especially my mother. I hope she would be proud of me. I hope she knows how much she was loved. I hope she knows that I am thankful every day for how much she loved me. I smile when a song comes on the radio that she used to like, or just thinking about holidays past. I have fond memories, and for that I am thankful.
I don’t post on social media any Happy Birthdays, or miss you posts. I would rather remember how she was here for a short while rather than feel sadness about the loss. Love ya Mom.