Elizabeth H. - My Hero....My Mom

When I was only 8 my mom gave birth to the 4th of the 5 kids in our family. Within a yr. #5 came along. By the time she and my Dad were expecting # 5 they discovered that my baby brother (born on my 8th birthday) was very ill with a very rare and devastating illness. Dr's immediately said to "put him in a home" as he will never live to see age 5. Docs said institutionalize him. My loving parents said "no way" to that. It was hard and took a great toll on us all, but of course no one more than my Mom. It was also a beautiful and awesome life having him in it. When I began my senior year of high school my father unexpectedly passed away at age 42 due to a heart attack. My mom went to work and became both Mom and Dad to all of us. Fast forward 10 years and my Mom was fortunate enough to find love a second time. She remarried a wonderful man. By this time due to a need for 24 hour nursing my little brother was placed in an awesome specialized residence for folks with special needs. Sadly tragedy struck again when my mom was 58. My older brother (a married father of three pre schoolers) also passed suddenly from an apparent heart attack. This despite living a super healthy lifestyle, and with no know risks excepting my Dad's early death. Around this time we noticed my Mother having difficulty with performance at work (a thing she historically excelled at). We assumed it was the shock of my brothers sudden death.It turned out not to be so. Her sharp wit and quick mind were different somehow.My Mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. During the 2 years it took to diagnose her, her husband died suddenly in front of her. A heart attack. My Mom who was always the rock, the one who always knew just what to do, was lost. She had no idea what was happening or what to do. A neighbor heard her screams and called 911. She also found my phone # and called me. Over the next year we never really knew what was simply grieving and what was Alzhiemers. Mom came to live with myself, my husband (the new rock...a lifesaver) and our two young teenagers. Her beautiful grandchildren who worshiped the ground she walked on. (We all did). My Mom said her slow goodbye over the next 4 years and between the loving care of my husband and kids we did it the best way we knew how. One day at a time. It was the hardest and yet in a strange way the most beautiful thing to be a part of. We laughed and cried, and made a crazy 29 hour drive from Florida home to NY (where we grew up and my sibs still lived). Mom got to meet her new little girl granddaughter and see my brother at his residential home one last time. We spent one last beautiful Christmas together. Mom passed peacefully at home less than 3 months later. She overcame so many obstacles in her life, and was without question the smartest person I had ever known. We all miss her terribly. We just walked in our first Alzheimers Awareness walk 2 weeks ago. Her children and grandchilren walked while her two beautiful great grandchildren used a wagon. This is our story...her story, and it's not all that different than the stories of others who have had to somehow fight and simultaneously live with this thief of a disease. It robs us all. It robbed my mother of many years and the chance to meet all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. To watch them grow up. It robbed us, her loved ones of too much to count. She was not old. It is not a "natural part of aging" as so many believe. We must find a cure and until that day arrives we need meds that actually work to stop this thief. Every time I forget something especially when it's a word I cant come up with, I panic. I post my story, my family's story and most importantly my moms story. I do it as a tribute to her and also to let others who are struggling with this disease know they are not alone. ♥♥

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