Viperine Alzheimer’s finally ended my mother’s life on June fourteenth at two o’clock in the morning my time. Had she lived until August 5th, she would be ninety-four. I was, and still am conflicted upon hearing of her death. The past two and half years, my mother really didn’t recognize people anymore. Her life was of existence and wholly dependent upon others for her survival. My siblings concur with me if it wasn’t for these beloved, dedicated caregiver’s mother would have died many years ago. The three ladies and my uncle made my mother at the based level of cognition, the human touch upon her sallow face or rice paper thin skin in her ancient hands kept her alive. Her indomitable spirit and the will to live often played across her face while she slept. My analogy of Alzheimer’s is that of a bee hive. Each comb is interconnected and a thought when the honey is evenly distributed travels through the maze and is uttered as complete. Those afflicted with Alzheimer’s as it progresses, there are less honey and often times none so a thought or an expression is lost. My siblings and I pored over photographs of my mother as a young woman, mom.vivacious, energetic full of optimism and the eternal urge to love all who crossed her path.
My eulogy included this sentence, “ My mother was the unofficial goodwill ambassador to humankind.” This isn’t some lofty sentiment by son making his parent an ideal never witnessed; rather this is an affirmation of her stunning ability and vision to see a need were others would overlook a tribulation. My mother truly didn’t see someone’s religion or the color of their skin. I do know first hand some of the people she helped were coal black, almond colored, Muslim, Arab, Christian and of course Jews what she did see and felt were the aches in their hearts or the physical pain they felt. She saw poverty of hopefulness when someone’s world was unanchored, and they were falling through society. I recall one day when I was visiting her a few years ago, and she was weeping that “god had forgotten her, and she wanted to die,” I told her “mom, God is keeping you alive so all the people you have helped around the world have come by to say to thank you for your help, and then he will call you home.” This allayed her discomfort and peace for a day or two. My mother’s impact upon her children, grandchildren and great grand children has left a body of information on how to have an honorable life. Her lasting legacy, should live for a few generations. I see in my children how they respect and honor another human being’s dignity. During the Shiva “a period of mourning for Jews”two young woman and their mother were paying their respects. The mother bore quintuplets. Before there were medicines for multiple births. She had a baby at home, and the father fled. The births made the paper through my mothers urging, my dad, and she bought and furnished a house for this family, furnished every room as if they were redoing their own home. They even installed two sets of washers and dryers, one set on the main floor and the other on the second floor. The children and their mom were part of our family. The kids were educated in universities. My youngest child was born two weeks to the day before these children in 1978. Three of the family now live in Vancouver. I watched these girls and my daughter exchange information to cement my mother’s legacy that an open heart can grow exponentially whereas a closed heart will shrivel and turn cold.
What Alzheimer’s did wasn’t so much killing my mother but inexorably rob her of her dignity, her soul’s very essence. I feel in my heart of hearts. She heard god telling her.”Helen, your work, godly work is now complete, come home to your husband and son.” Rest in peace mum.