A Long, Long Way From Home

July 16, 2013 - Lisa Hirsch

Editor's note: this piece originally appeared on Lisa's blog, My Mom, My Hero

This was probably 1942 right after my mom and dad had gotten married. Dad enlisted in the Navy and mom went to work on a army base in Brooklyn, N.Y. This was over seventy years ago. Unfortunately dad passed away 18 years ago and mom has no recollection of any of this.

Today my mom is not sure where her home is. When she is having a hard day she repeats many times that she wants to go home, and it is always the home that belonged to her parents. It never is the place she shared with my father, and it never is the home where she raised my brother and me.

I remember the first time after she already had Alzheimer's, that when we returned to her home after being out most of the day, she was surprised that she even lived there. I was a little in shock, since it had been her home for the last twenty something years. A home that she told me that she never wanted to leave. 

My brother and I have finally made a decision that our mom must go into a nursing home. A decision that breaks my heart as it would any child who had to do this to their parent. Yet nursing homes are all filled to capacity with others' loved ones. 

Since I believe Florida will be best for her, I will continue to be a long distant caregiver for mom. Another decision that unsettles me greatly. Yet as a long distance caregiver who speaks to my mother each and everyday, I am filled with deep emotions like any other caregiver, no matter how close or far they might be.

I now coordinate her care with her caregivers on a daily basis and  I am in constant communication anytime an emergency seems to happen. I help plan her daily activities, her health care issues, as well as stimulating my mom by spelling, singing or simply laughing. 

Am I not a caregiver? The answer is yes, just that I am a long distance caregiver. It can bother me when another caregiver  thinks I  may not understand because of the distance. Let me explain. I too see my mom disappearing. I also speak to her each day and go through the feelings of not being able to see her everyday or once a week. I too am a daughter with a mom who does not know who her grandson is, nor my husband of 33 years. There are moments when she is confused about who I am, giving me the title of being "her good friend."

After I see my mom for 3-7 days in a row she has no memory that I was with her, and questions when I will be coming to visit. I too understand how horrific this disease is. It is part of my life every single moment of every single day. It does not matter how far away I may live. it is still part of my life. I cannot escape any of this, nor do I want to. I am happy when she is having a good day and troubled when she is not.

The love and commitment I have for her cannot be measured. I will love and cherish everyday of her life, even if she and I are a long, long way from home.

 

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