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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Slowly Losing My Mother

Dear Me,

I really have a soft heart when it comes to pieces like this. I feel too heartbroken and I really cannot help but cry. I feel very guilty because I am like the person who wrote this.

My parents are nearing their retiring age. I can see from their faces and bodies how they aged through the years. Gone are the agility and the energy they used to have then. Now, I can see those gray hairs turning white, wrinkles marring their skins. They easily get tired and I can see how they try to hide the pains of old age.

They are still healthy in a way but who knows what may happen tomorrow.

I really want to make it up to both of them. I was never a good daughter to them. It's high time that I become one. I should spend more time with them while they are still well and alive. I should find the time to include them in my schedules. After all, they found the time to raise me well. I owe it much to them.

To Mamu and Papa, I never ever have the courage to say upfront how I care and love you both. But I really do.



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My mother has Alzheimer's disease. I find clothes neatly folded inside the refrigerator, as if it were a bedroom closet. I catch her sprinkling Tide on her toes, as if it were baby powder. I am now used to answering the same question over and over again at five-minute intervals. She claims she just talked to my dead grandmother or dined with my father who passed away when I was still in college. She looks for her puppy under the bed. That puppy was her dad's gift to her on her 10th birthday. She is 80. I used to enjoy talking to my mom. Being the youngest child and only girl, I wore clothes of the same design and print that she did. We were inseparable. When I started working, I'd treat her to Shakey's on weekends. We watched Vilma Santos movies together. On Sunday afternoons, we'd snuggle in bed reading magazines. We took turns feeding our cats and dogs.

Then I became too engrossed in my work and spent less and less time with her. On weekends, I'd sleep the whole day. Since we live in Novaliches, I had to leave early for my eight o'clock job and got home late - too tired to chat with her. But she understood and was always supportive of my job. For 14 years, she was left alone at home while I was at the office. But she did not mind. She had her plants, our pets, and her sewing machine to keep her busy. Her kingdom was our house. In fact, she felt proud of all the tasks she accomplished each day.

I am now a freelancer. I have all the time to spend with my mom. We can chat for hours now, go on vacations out-of-town, watch movies, horse around like we used to.

But it's too late.

She now has her own little world. She can't understand what I say. She can't appreciate my achievements anymore. She can no longer empathize with me the way she used to. She is obsessed with her odd collection of empty plastic bottles, cereal boxes and tin cans. She collects what I discard - germs and all! I have to scold her for she won't listen to my gentle reminders. She insists on going home to a house in Binondo where she was born, grew up and fell in love. But that house is long gone. And so is my grandmother - her mom. She does not believe me when I try to explain these things. She throws a tantrum instead. She thinks I am deceiving her. It breaks my heart. And this happens every single day! I feel like I'm going out of my mind. I
feel like a prisoner in a German camp. Now I know what mental torture a mere leaking faucet can induce.

It is ironic that while I can now enjoy being with my mom and talking to her for as long as I want, I'd rather not. I have discovered that it is better to just keep quiet and silently watch her.

I used to hear stories of how hard it is to take care of aging parents. They say it can really test your patience. It can suck out your time and energy, not to mention money. I'd like to think that I am better off: my mom is not bedridden. Neither does she make a mess of herself – yet. She still walks around our garden, eats by herself, enjoys our pets and tinkers around. But I now realize that it is harder to watch your mom gradually drifting into her own private world. I try to catch the fleeting moments when she still knows that she is my mother. I know that one day she will ask who I am. I dread that day.

Many times as I watch her sleeping peacefully like a child, I scold myself. Though I showered her with material gifts when I still had a regular job, I deprived her of so much: my time, my presence, my attention and in a way, my love. I feel guilty for the stories I did not share with her, the advice I did not ask from her, the secrets I did not confide to her, the activities I did not enjoy with her. It's sad that when I gained new friends and discovered new horizons in life, there was very little space left for her in my heart.

For those out there who still have your mom - sane and sound - always set aside time for her. Grab every opportunity to bond and show her your love. And let her love you too. Let her continue being a mother to you. Seize the time. One day, she might still be around but you would have already lost her.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Ivan,
    I'm really sorry that your mom has Alzheimer's Disease; it must be so difficult on everybody. At some point in our parents lives, the roles are reversed. We become the adult & they revert to childhood. It isn't too late at all to show your mom how much you love her. Make sure she's treated with dignity & loving care. If you haven't told your parents, I strongly suggest you do so. I don't mean to preach, but I lost my dad in 1993 & wish i'd treated him different & told him that I loved him more often. I was like you though, nervous to say it. That's probably the greatest gift you can give to your parents...your love.
    Thanks for visiting my blog & taking the time to say HI. I'm glad I have read your blog.

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  2. Dear Jane,

    Ow, sorry. It's not actually my mom. It was an article I got from my inbox and I just want to share that message to everyone. I just feel guilty because I am just like her, never finding the time to be with their parents. Reading this made me cry and I promise to myself that I'll spend more time with them.

    I'm sorry if this is a misunderstanding.

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  3. Sooner or later, I might have an entry like urs. The alzheimer write up reminds me of my late grandmother.

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  4. Sending good vibes your way.
    I've had friends go through this - it's hard I know.
    I just hope all the thoughts she has are happy ones.
    Take care

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  5. oh, i'm really sorry guys! My mom does NOT have Alzheimer's.

    It's just an article. :)

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  6. hi ivan!
    the first time I read this article somewhere.... iyak talaga ako ng iyak... kasi that time meron kaming misunderstanding ng nanay ko... said article helped me released the pain somehow.... knowing i do not know up to what time we would have each other, i just prayed to God to grant me a forgiving heart, my mind may not understand the situation we were in but my heart could because I love here ....and in the best way that I know, i try to show her how much i love her....... :-)

    gena.. ΓΌ

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  7. My grandma was a paranoid schizophrenic. She was in & out of mental institutions for a good portion of my life. She was so sweet & always knew who I was every time. I do not know if I could have taken it if she didn't. I used to take her for ice cream (her favorite Braum's) & she would just sit quietly in her own world smiling. I think she died peaceful & happy & I wish the same for your Mother. Do what you can bear at this point & don't feel guilty. She knows that you love her. You know that you love her & that's most important. Best Wishes!

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  8. gena, articles like this always serve as a reminder for me about how I personally deal with my parents and my relationship to them as their daughter.

    same as you, i keep on crying everytime I read this.

    ****

    karissa, this article actually has nothing to do with my mom. I mean, physically. It was just an article I got from somewhere and I thought of sharing it to everyone.

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!