Sunday, January 23, 2005

Imagine that you are 26 years old.
You are beautiful.
You have a decent job, and a sideline as a Jazz/Hip Hop dancer (you’ve been in videos and everything).
You have your whole life ahead of you.

Then, your mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
You stop your life.
You move to a small armpit town in Northern Ontario, and take care of her, along with your stepfather who is suffering with prostate cancer.

This is The Mister’s cousin.

We saw both Cousin and Auntie for the first time in a long time last night.
Auntie has declined significantly.
We see less of the Auntie we remember every time we see her.
Yet with the melancholy there is also the comedy.

When Auntie first came in, after my hello hug, she said:
“Yuh better watch me, yuh hear? I’s steal bad, bad. It’s the Alzheimer’s.”

True to her word, she was found to have 4 packs of cigarettes and 2 lighters by this morning. Thinking that every pack that was the same brand as hers, was in fact hers.
The repetition, the same questions over and over, and the obsession with certain items (like the whereabouts of her purse), become fatiguing.
…and how sad it is that Auntie also knows this to be so, and is constantly apologizing for it.
To see a daughters infinite patience, and love for her mother.
It’s a maddening, devastating thing to watch.
To know that a person you love is slipping away from you every day, a little bit more, to be replaced by a stranger.
To think, and wonder if the same thing might happen to you.

What a puzzling and infuriating disease this is.
To not remember where you are, or who you’re with, or even if you’ve eaten.
Yet, your memories from 20 and 30 years ago are crystal clear.

I overheard Cousin talking with someone last night, and that person said to her:
“What a wonderful daughter you are to make the choice to care for your mother when she needs you.”
Cousin replied, “I had no choice. She’s my mother”

Yes, she did have a choice.

The difference?
She made the grown up one.