Tuesday, 16 February 2016

My Mum

... is ninety today.  

Me, Mum and Julia, 1987.  1980s big hair all round!
Julia, Mum and me
~ August 1959.  That's me in the shawl!

February 17th, 2016 ~ Mum is ninety today, though she won't know about it because she's had Alzheimer's for the past seven years.  Dad will take a card to the care home where she lives now, from all of us, but it won't mean anything to her; she hasn't known about dates and times for some years now.  Sometimes she thinks I am her sister Angela, who lived in Australia and died not so long ago; she has also asked me where she knows me from! :)

(Note from later:  Dad said she seemed to enjoy looking at her cards, even though she didn't understand what they were!  Or maybe she did ~ alas, we don't know)

Mum, bottom left, with her family, probably in about 1937, definitely pre-war anyway.  Her brothers at the top, Ken and Geoff, both fought in the war.  My grandparents, in the middle, were born in 1888 and 1891 - seems amazing!


Mum with Dad at her care home, a couple of years ago

Before crappy old Alzheimer's, Mum was a funny, witty, intelligent woman who was always more interested in reading books, doing cryptic crosswords (and learning her lines for various am-dram performances when she was younger) than doing domestic stuff - obviously where I get it from!  The house was always immaculate and we were wonderfully well looked after, but she wasn't a dedicated 'homemaker' and never encouraged me or my sister to be so, either.  She used to knit for us when we were children (because women just did, in the 1960s, didn't they?), but she only ever made a token attempt at things like dressmaking.  I remember Dad buying her a posh sewing machine once, and she stubbornly refused to use it ~ she was (and still is!) a very contrary Aquarian! 
 
Mum in the conservatory in her and Dad's house, about 12 years ago, I think

About twelve years ago, the two of them came to visit me in Norfolk.  It was bitterly cold, and we were walking round the lovely little town of Holt.  Dad wanted to buy Mum a nice furry hat to keep her warm, but she refused to wear such a thing, saying that she 'didn't want to look like some batty old woman'.  She was seventy-eight.  When she was over seventy and she and Dad moved into their village, she was asked if she was interested in meals on wheels.  She said that yes, of course, she'd be delighted to help out ~ not realising that they were asking her if she required them herself :) 


Mum and Dad in Portsmouth, 1955

Sometimes, when I go to see her, I see a little spark of the real her that still exists; she'll laugh about something in the way she used to, or even recognise me.  I'll be thinking of her today even though I can't go to see her - and now I'll stop before I get overly sentimental, or start blubbing!


Dad, Eddie, me, Julia and Mum ~ February 1999



In the care home, 2012


A bit too small to see properly, but on the right is Mum aged 8, in 1934, with her sister, Angela.
Thank you to my cousin Ian, Angela's son, for this. x

59 comments:

  1. Very poignant - I know what you're going through as my mum is not far behind yours. Hugs x

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    1. Oh, Rose, if ever I post something about Mum's Alzheimer's I get so many comments saying that other people are in the same situation. It's so common now, so sad. I have some theories about this, but won't go into them here. x

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  2. Beautiful photographs, Terry, and what a lovely post. This cruel disease may be able to take out loved ones, but it can't erase our wonderful memories. Sending hugs x

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    1. Thank you, Shelley! I have a large family on Mum's side, stretched out all over the place, and my cousin Ian in Australia started an FB group for us all to share photos - I thought this would be a nice thing for that :) x

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  3. Every time I see that ad on TV for 'Dementia Friends', I think, I'm not one of them, I'm a Dementia Enemy.

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  4. Lovely article Terry. Splendid 'meals on wheels' story!

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    1. Thanks, Gerry - I can still hear Mum screaming with laughter when she told me :)

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  5. This post made me emotional Terry. The love of your family is so evident in your words and the photos. Alzeihmers is cruel and too common. Happy birthday to your mum x

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    1. Thanks so much, Nillu, how kind :) x

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  6. Happy birthday to your mum, Terry! I love the bits you shared about her. She sounds like a remarkable woman. So sorry about the Alzheimer's stealing her mind from you.

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    1. Thank you, Darcia - yes, I do miss her so much! And she doesn't know about me writing now, either, or anything else that's happened in the last 7 years to any of us, alas! I'm happy that she met my husband before she got too bad to understand who he was, though. x

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  7. Wonderful blog post... thank you for sharing these lovely pictures & your memories :)

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    1. Thank YOU for being interested enough to look, Vanessa xxx

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  8. Such a touching piece Terry. Our mothers are our "special people." And to lose that connection, I know is beyond difficult. I appreciate that you opened your heart to us. Sharing these lovely photos reminiscent of a happy family and words that profoundly let us know exactly where you're coming from. Sending hugs your way today! :)

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  9. Terry, I feel for you and your family so much. My mum had Alzheimer’s for years before she passed away. It’s one of the most horrible diseases. Thank goodness for memories...and photos. Yours are lovely :) xx

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    1. Thanks, Cathy ~ honestly, I think 50% of people I speak to about this have had experience of it in their own families. Yes.. thank goodness for photos :)

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  10. Ah TT, I saw this post yesterday, but when I clicked it had gone. I feel so much for you. My dad was 87 when he died and he didn't know who I was anymore either. It's heartbreaking when your parents look at you with that puzzled expression and you know they're struggling to place your face. These photos are a lovely reminder of who she once was... and that smile! So like yours! She sounds like a lovely, vivid person, and that's how to remember her. Your dad must feel it terribly too. Hugs to you all xxx

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    1. Yes, I published it by mistake when it was half done! I don't mind for myself (because it's not her fault she can't remember me!), I just feel so sorry for Dad. Julia and I are both a lot like her ;) x

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  11. I am reading a book right now written in the 90's called Contented Dementia (yeah, it fits both the need and this year's theme) written by a bloke on your side of the pond. Where in many ways they seem much more ahead of the curve than we are. The nonprofit I work for is implementing a Dementia-friendly training from Ireland. The sad thing, as I am reading the book, are all the great tips they are giving me that we could have used as recently as a year ago, but which are no longer within my mother's capacity to benefit from. Alzheimers is like the Cancer Club, only perhaps worse. We all know what each other is going through, but unlike with cancer, there's rarely any hope. Personally I am hoping to have a USB port installed beneath my left ear so my memories can be uploaded once a day. With my luck, though, the technology will become outdated and I won't have the cash for an upgrade. ;-)

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    1. Paula - I don't know if you've seen any Charlie Brooks films, but he's done one in which people have that very thing done, in the future! Your final comment made me smile ;)

      I know, I know - all these 'cure for Alzheimer's' things we read ~ and I know exactly what you mean about the 'clubs'. Thanks for your great reply x

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  12. So good that you've got the photos to bolster your memories of all those happy days. And it looks like you've got a nice place for your mum to be looked after and where your dad can go and visit her. It's good that more people are talking about this condition; much better than pretending it's not happening as used to be the case. Thankyou for sharing this today. :)

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    1. Indeed, Cathy! Thanks for your kind comment - I go to visit Mum there when I can get down, it's a lovely place in the countryside. Happily, my sister goes down once a month (she lives nearer) and my brother is able to get there on a weekly basis too xx

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  13. Such a touching post, Terry. Beautiful share. I'm so sorry Alzheimers has stolen your Mum (the Mum you knew) from you. I can only imagine how hard that must be. Gorgeous photos! x

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  14. A beautiful post, love and hugs to you and a happy birthday to your mum xxx

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  15. Thoughts are with you, and Julia, today,Terry. The photos say it all; they're lovely family moments. My mum volunteered as a 'Home Help' in her seventies, helping the 'old folk'- so your tale of the meals on wheels strikes a cord. Funny moments and good memories; things to hold on to when you feel like a good 'skrike' (as my mum would say) She saw you when she knew who you were, don't worry about not being able to get around to it now. Oh 'eck, you've set me off. Jx

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    1. Oh, your mum was like mine, then!! Sorry to have set you off - I know you 'know' - sadly xxx Thank you xx

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  16. Lovely post, Terry. Happy birthday to your Mum; she sounds like she's had a wonderful life x

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  17. we lose far too much as it is, but this dreadful disease steals in a different way. The painful reminder of what has gone is no consolation and must be so painful...

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    1. Ah, we try to look on the bright side and remember funny stuff, Anita! Thanks for your kind comment, much appreciated xx

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  18. Just like everyone else says, so touching and emotional Terry. Nothing I can add, but thanks for sharing it and hope your mum has a nice day and that your rotten illness gets sorted soon.

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    1. Alas, Mum is way past having nice days, but I thank you for your kind message! :)

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  19. Sorry, my e-mail has only just delivered this from the electronic ether. Happy belated birthday wishes for your Mum.

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  20. What a wonderful post. Beautiful pictures. I'm sorry you're laid up. Feel better soon.

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  21. Such a beautiful post, Terry. Take care.

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  22. Much love to you and your family! You Mum sounds like my kind of lady...maybe because we're both Aquarians! xx

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    1. Oh, totally!!! Yes, I can definitely see that - Mum would have had a much more groovy life if she'd had the opportunities young women have now. We are very lucky:) x

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  23. So beautiful.
    Love the 'Meals on Wheels' part :)

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  24. It must be very difficult to write about this Terry, but thank you for sharing your memories of your Mom, it's obvious how loved she was and is. She sounds like she was a great inspiration for you and nothing can ever take that away, not even this terrible disease. Hope you feel better soon. xo

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    1. What a lovely comment, Steph, thanks so much xxx

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  25. I see you in your mom, Terry. I loved reading this and hate that she has Alzheimer's. xo

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  26. Ugh. Thanks Terry. My eyes filled up with tears as I read this.

    "I see a little spark of the real her that still exists; she'll laugh about something in the way she used to, or even recognise me"

    Ugly cry.

    My Mum has been battling metastatic breast cancer since 2012 and in November we found out she has brain tumours and though after treatment they have shrunk well, there were moments there where she had no idea what was going on, was saying incredibly silly things and convinced me that I would never "see her" again.

    Even though she's regained her ability to eat, speak and function almost 100% again, it is incredibly scary to think of it happening again. I can't imagine what it must be like to still have that person in your life and seeing her often but not entirely recognising the person she is now and not being able to reconcile her actions with who you know her to be.

    My emotions aside, what a lovely tribute to your mother. :) Happy 90th to her!

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    1. Thanks so much, Jess, and I do feel for you! We're used to it now, after 7 years, and my sister and I usually agree just not to 'go there' when it comes to talking about it too much. It's saddest for my dad - that's the really really sad bit. We hate seeing him go through it, though I have to say that at 86 he manages it very well!

      I am mentally crossing my fingers for you that your mum retains her health and all faculties for a long time xxx

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  27. Just sending warm thoughts and hugs x
    @SundaysSparrow

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    1. That's really sweet of you, thanks! xx

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  28. This was so moving Terry. I can completely identify with your situation. Thank you for sharing this with us all. PS: We were born in the same year!

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    1. Thanks Julie - and let's hear it for the 59ers!!!! It HAS to be cool to have been born in the 50s - just :) xx

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  29. Indeed it is but I've told my grandsons(x4)that I'm 42!

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