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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

Tribute to My Mom

Huge sadness is attached to this blog … my mom passed on Monday morning, June 6, 2022.

It was a huge shock even though we knew this day would come. It has been coming for over 20 years. That is how long we have fought the fight of Alzheimer’s. That’s how long ago we started to lose mom, the fading began, the memories dimmed and the light in her eyes weakened until now when that final light died out completely.

Again, we were not prepared. To be honest it has been such a long time, we began to convince ourselves that she would outlive us all. It was not like we wished her to stay alive in this state, not at all, she was fully engaged in stage 4 Alzheimer’s, but she beat all the odds; she outlived 3-4 sets of patients on her wards (like entire wards) in the 2 care homes; Dr’s gave us dates, times of what this could look like, she never did it their way, always hers.

We have cried so many tears over the years as each step of this disease took another piece of our mom. Sometimes we cried going in and coming out from a visit. Sometimes we could only sit in the car and scream and thump the steering wheel in frustration. Sometimes we turned the car around and could not physically go inside the building.

To say Alzheimer’s sucks is an incredible understatement!

We lost mom such a long time ago and the person who sat across from us at the home, looked like mom, sounded like mom (until she could not longer talk), but she was not mom. Mom would know us, wouldn’t she? You waited for the light of recognition to come on, but it rarely did in the past 5-6 years.

The anger phase of Alzheimer’s was a shock, that could not be “our” mom who was saying and doing those things….

The confusion, the suspicion, the sadness – it’s all there wrapped up in a name called Alzheimer’s.

The one thing that is a major mercy is this: the person who has Alzheimer’s has no idea of what is going on around them or the impact they are making in their world. They are oblivious and do not know the chaos that this disease has ensued. The motto in Alzheimer’s is wait for 5 minutes, the afflicted person will usually forget about it and find a new thought…..

The caregivers however do not. We do not forget the pain, the damage, the hurtful words, the accusations, the forgetfulness, the repeating of the same questions over and over and the blank stare in their eyes when you say, “mom”.

The caregivers need to give themselves special attention and grace because theirs is a thankless job. It is a heart damaging job. It is a job made for a superhero and thank God, we have a couple of those in our family: my sister and my brother.

Carolyn has been by my mom’s side through this whole long ordeal, she deserves a trophy, a medal or at least a huge thank you but it does not seem to be nearly enough.

My brother has been a rock through it all, solid in his caring for his mom.

My siblings were given a huge gift last weekend. Mom rallied for a night, it was her birthday, and they took mom out in her wheelchair in a special taxi to the beach in White Rock for fish and chips. Mom knew who they were for part of the evening. She knew them…. How long has it been since that ever happened? She laughed as they 4 x 4 wheeled her wheelchair through the beach and smiled like she hasn’t in ages. It was a gift to her for her birthday, but a gift to them because she acknowledged them and knew them, her children. What a wonderful parting gift! Who knew that in a matter of days, the call would come, mom is gone.

How do you describe your mom?

I have tried to describe mine and now that she has passed I am finding that I need to describe her more, it keeps her more “alive” in my head.

Mom was a lady. She rarely if ever swore, she dressed up and made sure her eyebrows, hair and lipstick were in place before she ventured out. She loved shoes. Dad complained about all those shoes but she loved them. Mom was a shopper extraordinaire, she found incredible bargains.

Mom was fair, never cruel, if you had to deal with mom over a disobedience matter it was waaaay better than dealing with Dad. Mom was kind. You could cuddle up with mom if you were sick, she always made you feel better and she would serve you tea and toast, usually cinnamon toast, it always made you feel better. (Tim Hortons steeped tea is the closest to mom’s tea that I can find).

Mom loved to laugh and I loved to laugh with her. Mom was my friend and I miss her, have missed her for a long time.

My siblings and I are sure that mom was the smartest woman we know – she had an answer to every question we had (we have had this bubble burst now that we are older and have found out some of the answers were not quite correct). It does not matter, I still want to pick up the phone and call my mom to ask her certain questions, especially about recipes, raising kids, other times we just needed her to hold our hand or our broken hearts!

The greatest gift my mom ever gave any of us, her children, her grandchildren, is this: we knew we were loved – always. What could ever be better than that?

Thanks Mom.

Joan’s intense struggle with Alzheimer’s has been long and tumultuous, a vicious disease that robs family and the afflicted person of dreams and memories. Joan’s family will celebrate Joan’s life in a closed private ceremony, sharing the many stories of how mom and grandma impacted our lives forever.

We ask that in lieu of flowers that you would donate to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, here is a link to their website:

Thank you.

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