Tom and I always wanted children. After time spent the old fashioned way, we fail. With a diagnosis of endometriosis it’s on to hormone shots, lawyers and far away places to try to win our prize through adoption.
Disappointments pile up. Several years pass, and as we grow tired of the treadmill, we simply stop. Agreeing that life without children of our own will be okay. Sex gets a whole lot sexier and our love for each other deepens.
We never imagined our lives would become an 18-year journey with an elderly parent, ironically the equivalent in time to birth through college send-off for most families.
My mother is preoccupied turning the green-and-gold box over and over in her hands. She speaks softly, “I get lost driving around town, now.” I laugh, fearing the silence, and respond maybe too quickly, “Me too. It happens all the time when I am traveling for work.”
She pushes the box closer to me and I see the logo, Namenda. “I went to the doctor and he prescribed this. It’s for Alzheimer’s.”
Did my mother just say Alzheimer’s?
“I left his office, sat in my car and cried,” she said. “Then I tucked the box away because I wanted to talk to you. Do you think I’m losing my mind?”
Selfishly I look past my mother and think of a simpler time. A time when my father was here to support her and I wasn’t on the front line of such weighty matters. Those days, gone. And I fear I won’t be very good at being the parent, the one who provides care.
I hold her gaze knowing that although she’s forgetful, that she endlessly repeats things and that she blares the television at levels that drive most from the room, she’s 80 years old. And she’s waiting for my response, for me to make it all better.
But, I can’t move from the word. It’s echoing through my core. Alzheimer’s.
Finally I pull myself together and ask, “Do you think it’s time for us to get some help, Mom?” Her shoulders slump and I know, in this moment I’ve failed her.
But, I also know. I can’t make this bogey man go away.