Janet B. - A Mother's Final Gift - In Memory of Betty L. Walker
My journey began in 2002 when I recognized that my mother leaving a key ingredient out of a recipe she had made literally hundreds of times was not just a singular event. She had also lost her way while driving in the small town where she had always lived but my father was hiding the reality how bad her memory had become. She fell the year before and an ER physician discovered a non-cancerous tumor on her brain. A trusted friend and neuro-surgeon felt certain the tumor needed to be removed and so we agreed to the surgery. The surgery was a success but it probably however the trauma to the brain may have shortened the time that was already not on her side. She knew something was different kept hoping that another trip to the kind neuro-surgeion might make a difference. Ultimately through frequent visits to a neurologist we began to see the pattern and signs of dementia common with early on-set Alzheimer's. Mom had actually been a caregiver for my Dad for many years and being the only child in Oklahoma I knew that I would need to stand in the gap for not just one but both parents. For my life this meant first a change of jobs and relocation of my immediate family to a community to better support my husband's career. I then tackled the real challenge of relocating my parents to live just 15 minutes from my home. My parents did get to enjoy three and one half years at a beautiful senior living facility before Mom's needs required the care of a memory unit for her safety and to better assist with her daily living activities. She had only lived there three weeks my my Dad fell causing a compound fracture of his ankle so after surgery he moved to the adjoining unit and the staff came to love helping them visit one another. My favorite time with Mom during those last three years was singing hymns that she had learned early in life. She would pick up the tune and the words as they came to her but it was the amazing to see the joy in her eyes and experience how very present in the moment during those memorable visits. She passed away on April 15th, 2012 with my sister Marilyn and myself holding her hands. It was a special gift she some how gave my sister; for this was the anniversary of the death of Marilyn's youngest son Dale who had died tragically thirty years ago to the day; a gift of only one day to grieve instead of two. I miss her so very much, but a good friend reminded me that I am her legacy and that keeps me smiling and caring for my Dad.