By in Family

What Alzheimer did to Maria...

Who hasn't forgotten their keys somewhere, how about gone into a room with a mission to get something, only to have no clue what you were going to get. Is it fatigue or is it Alzheimer? You can recover from fatigue, Alzheimer only gets worst. It's the puzzled look in their eyes, the look of searching for data that has been deleted...What's a family to do when they are struck with this disease. In 2005 my family got hit very hard when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer. My mother went from being totally independent to completely lost. In 2004, my mother would do things that were a bit off for her. She would forget things on an open burner, leave her wallet at the store, cross the street without looking. She was living on her own in Montreal, where she had lived all her adult life, since 1956 when she arrived to Canada and began her life with my father. My husband, children and i were living in Gore, only one hour away so we started visiting her everyday as opposed to once a week like before. The more time passed the more we started realizing that she was becoming forgetful, but it was more than forgetful it was more like erased. Her brain started confusing events, mixing them up, shuffling in no chronological order, as far as erasing events completely. We decided she should not live alone in a retirement home anymore, My father had passed away in 1996 and she was never the same. We wanted her to come live with us. Needless to say, it was met with resistance, she refused. My mother loved being free and independent, she new all her Italian specialty stores. She had good friends that she new from the old country who had come to Canada about the same time she came, she had worked 40 years in Canada and made many friends from everywhere. In general, we visited her everyday, once in a while because of distance, work and school, it was not possible to go see her. Even if we couldn't see her, we would call her twice daily and she seemed fine. One afternoon I got a call from the residence where my mother was living, they told me they hadn't seen my mother that morning. When i got there, my mothers purse was left behind and my mother was nowhere to be found. We called the police and they advised us they had accompanied a woman they found on the street wandering without any ID on her. She didn't know who she was, didn't know where she lived, it seemed like my mothers description. They had taken her to Fleury hospital in Montreal. We met her there, it was her, i was so happy to see her. Even with all these clues, no one at the hospital said anything about Alzheimer. We took her home with us, and moved her out of her appartment. Unfortunately it didn't end there, as the days advanced it was like a roller coaster ride. My mother would go from happy, to distressed, to scared, to very sad. Sometimes she didn't know who i was and other times she didn't know who she was or what i was doing there in her house. At times she thought i was her little sister from Italy, whom she hadn't seen since 1997, only she thought we were young kids and we were waiting for our older sister to come and get us, she would get mad if i didn't sit next to her and hold her hand so i wouldn't walk away. She refused to go to the hospital, so one day i tricked her into coming to the hospital with me. I told her i didn't feel good and asked her to take me to be checked out, she agreed. We took her to Santa Cabrini Hospital in Montreal, I told them i thought my mother had Alzheimer, we needed help! They were amazing, they took her immediately and admitted her, we saw a doctor right away. The cold truth was confirmed, she had advanced Alzheimer. From then on, she was never left alone. She would have a few moments of lucidity on occasion, but not long after confusion would take over. It progressively got worst, until August 3, 2012, when she had to be transported to the Lachute hospital by ambulance, and where she expired August 11, 2012, surrounded by 5 grandchildren, Angelo my husband and myself. While she was there, she never woke up, we sang her favorite songs, we talked to her, about her, took turns holding her hand, she was hanging on refusing to go... When her doctor came to visit her, that late morning, clearly she was in agony, she told me to talk to my mother, to give her permission to go into the light. She said my mother didn't want to leave me, and needed help to go meet her mother whom she loved. My Mother was having trouble breathing, it was sad to see. So i held her hand, and whispered..."Mamma, your mother is waiting to see you, go to her ", as if that's all she was waiting for, she took 3 last deep breaths, on the 3rd breath we couldn't believe it, she was gone and we cried. My mother lived with us 7 years, she didn't know us, but we knew her... we continue remembering her... In loving memory...Maria

Image Credit » Photo by Isabella Di Fronzo

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paigea wrote on October 22, 2014, 9:49 PM

I am so very sorry you had to go through this. Your mother was lucky to have you. We have had a similar experience in our family.

Isabella wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:02 PM

Even if this sounds this sad, there was so many blessings in disguise. In her disease she kept her sense of humor too. She sang to us and gave us so much love.

Feisty56 wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:03 PM

What a difficult journey that must have been for all of you. You were a most loving and devoted daughter to have continued to care for her long after she was unable to recognize you as her daughter. I am sure speaking those words to her, the ones that released her from her hold on life in this world, were difficult for you, even as much as you saw the need for them.

This is a heartwarming tribute to Maria.

Isabella wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:07 PM

They were the hardest words i ever spoke. I was an only child and she was my world.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 11:11 PM

I still remember when we met her the day of the St. Patrick's parade several years ago. She was reliving old memories and we called her "Mademoiselle," because in her mind she was still a young single woman. It brings tears to my eyes, reading about the voyage you shared with her until her final breaths.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 11:13 PM

You and Angelo were good to her, and she was fortunate to have the grandkids around her right until the end. You did the best that could be done for her, Isabella.

Isabella wrote on October 22, 2014, 11:34 PM

I'm happy you remember her Kyla. We talk about her every chance we get, among ourselves and thank god for pictures. She's in our hearts...

BarbRad wrote on October 23, 2014, 2:03 AM

This brought tears to my eyes. My dearest college roommate has dementia and lives in an assisted living home in Texas. She had sort of dropped out of my life when mail went unanswered. I tracked down her daughters on Facebook and learned the horrible truth. I'm grieving even though she is still alive because she is lost to me.

LoudMan wrote on October 23, 2014, 8:24 AM

I'm so sorry. Alzheimer's also got my grandmother. That sweet, friendly, funny woman also went through the long death. It's difficult to watch, isn't it?

Isabella wrote on October 23, 2014, 2:13 PM

I'm sorry for your friend. This is a sad situation, i really know how you feel. Your'e grieving for what will never be the same again. But there is much to learn about this disease. Although the person doesn't know you anymore and if they don't lose their speech, they dialogue in a different way with you. They are fearless, and really speak their mind, something they maybe not have done before. If they don't like a caregiver or if they feel they've been wronged, watch out!

Isabella wrote on October 23, 2014, 2:26 PM

It's very difficult to watch, but my mother had a strong personality and our days were colorful to say the least. The 7 years she lived with us, really passed very fast, I would of kept her a little longer. It's really the end that is horribly sad, because the brain doesn't receive signals anymore. The body starts to shut down and the organs stop doing their job.

PattyTherre wrote on October 23, 2014, 7:32 PM

What a sad but beautiful story. My aunt had Alzheimer's and it was so tough for my cousins. They adored her though and did everything they could for her until she passed away at age 89 last year.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 24, 2014, 11:27 AM

It was an honour to have met her, Isabella. I know that was a tough year for all of you, and everyone was making sacrifices because you travelled so far to bring the kids to cadets and she had to come with you. It must have been tough, trying to balance the needs of your mother with the needs of the kids....

Are the boys still doing cadets? We have two girls in the program now - the oldest just started staffing this summer. Our littlest is now counting down the time until she's old enough to join :)

Isabella wrote on October 24, 2014, 2:05 PM

I remember those days very well. My mother loved them so much, the moment they would come back to the car she would ask them, "so what you do today?", in her broken English. That was their chance at giving us every detail, they would argue who was going to talk first. The girls really loved going to the Black Watch and wouldn't have it any other way, boy did we travel. Aren't we always juggling one thing or another? That's being a parent, always trying to make everyone happy and somehow they still manage to complain! No more cadets for us though, it came to an end with the girls... the boys have no interest. They have great interest in music still, they play different instruments in bands. The major interest is RUGBY, they play it even in their sleep. I can't believe your babies, grew so fast! Little cutie pies, so smart and so articulate, at a very young age. How old was Suzie then?

Isabella wrote on October 24, 2014, 2:10 PM

I'm sorry for your aunt. It's challenging, to say the least. I wouldn't have done it any other way, i got much more than i gave.

Lemark wrote on October 24, 2014, 2:23 PM

Thank you very much for this story. I am at loss for the words. You are a wonderful family.

Isabella wrote on October 24, 2014, 2:40 PM

Thank you, i can see you really appreciated my vulnerability. This is a very personal story, with an immense opportunity to learn and teach about not only the disease but the journey.

Lemark wrote on October 24, 2014, 4:03 PM

The journey is what counts in the end. To accept, to continue and to make the best possible journey out of it.

Congratulations again.

Kasman wrote on October 26, 2014, 8:57 AM

I know the tragedy of Alzheimer's through my own mother. It is a cruel disease and it is harder on the family than the person who has it. She is at peace now.

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:02 PM

I'm sorry for your loss Kasman, a mother is the heart of the family and no matter how old we get, we always have a sweet spot for our mamma.

LeaPea2417 wrote on October 30, 2014, 9:57 PM

I am sorry your Mother went through this. Luckily she had you all as a loving family to be concerned and caring for her.

Isabella wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:06 PM

I don't regret, the wonderful opportunity i had to share love with my mother until the end. Even if she didn't know me anymore.