In Creating Moments of Joy, a book by Jolene Brackey, the author encourages those who are working with or family members of people with Alzheimer’s disease to embrace each individual moment. I am beginning to understand the reason for this. My mom has begun to shift decades and emotions from moment to moment. Some moments are good, some are sad, and some are outright difficult.
Though I completely understand the philosophy of appreciating the moment, in practice it is not always so easy. I go visit her, we spend hours together. Sometimes, we go out to a movie or to get ice cream or shopping. She is so appreciative of me being there and taking her out and doing things for her. Then, I leave and she has no memory that I was there. In fact, this last visit, as I am walking with her to the door, the memory of me, her daughter, being there was already gone. As we walked, she said to me, “My daughters do not even visit. You would think that they would visit their mother, but they don’t.”
So, we get calls from her and the staff never fails to mention how much she asks for us. She wants to see us, she misses us, and we never visit. Each visit is not only a lot of time, but also emotionally very draining. We are always trying to decide what we can talk about or how to answer her questions in a way that will not upset her. We try to do things that make her happy, that bring her joy. In that moment, it can be very good. But it really is only for that moment.
I know so many people who waited to take their kids to Disney World or on big trips, like to Europe, until they were old enough to remember it. My mom’s philosophy was that every experience creates something in a child that becomes a part of who they are even if they don’t exactly remember it. I wonder if it is the same now and that even if she doesn’t cognitively remember our visits and her experiences each day, it is somehow a part of her.