Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pure Joy

Martin's mom Jody is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's with an advanced type of Aphasia. She can't read written language anymore and understands only some spoken language. She can verbalize minimally- usually in halting and broken speech- with many words jumbled or mixed up. She doesn't understand what is happening to her. She has gone from a fully functioning adult to this in about 3 years and she's only 58 years old.

I feel lucky that she has spent enough time with Lily and I in the last two years that she still recognizes us- though she knows Martin and his voice without a doubt.

Since she doesn't understand exactly what is going on with her, we weren't sure what to expect with our visit this last weekend. We didn't want to agitate her too much by coming and then going again, but felt it was very important for us and the girls to visit as soon as we were able and hoped that the visit wouldn't do more harm than good.

We headed over on Saturday to the Memory Care unit of the nursing home - which is basically the "lock down" wing. She didn't see us come in at first and we watched her for a minute finishing her lunch. Finally the nurse told her she had a visitor and she turned toward the door. As soon as she saw us she was on her feet. She ran over to us smiling and saying, "My babies! My babies are here!" She hugged us all together tightly. She picked up Lily to hug her and remembered her name. She tried to pick up Kendra too but she's just too big now.

We talked with her a little, talked with the nurses then she herded us back and forth from the visitor's lounge to her room and back again. It became apparent that she thought we were there to take her home. She kept saying "Let's go" and at one point said "South Bend." I didn't know how to explain. How could we?

It hasn't been easy for any of us. I can't even imagine how she feels. But that moment of recognition when we first saw her- that spark of life and excitement in her eyes-it was all worth it.