Breve Carta a Papá 12 años después de su partida


Hace 12 años que te fuiste, el 16 de enero del 2005… víctima de un cancer de hígado fulminante que te llevó en cuestión de días, después de descubrir que tenías cancer. Nos sentimos tan impotentes!

Siempre pienso en ti, viejo. Te recuerdo: tus chistes malos con tu incredible sentido del humor (los cuales heredé), tu amor por la humanidad que siempre empezó por casa, y tu sabiduría que me ha guiado desde que te fuiste.

Mamá sigue deteriorándose. Hace una semana la mudamos a skilled nursing porque se negaba a recibir la atención que necesitaba en assisted living. No te voy a negar: es duro ver su mente apagarse poco a poco: siempre cree que soy mi tío. Pero una constante es que aún te recuerda: la tuya es una de las fotos que tiene en su cuarto.

En fin… te queremos y te echamos de menos, papá. No dejes de echarnos un ojo desde donde estás.

Repeating herself. Repeating herself. Repeating herself.

If you read this blog (though I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t), you probably know that my mother has Alzheimer’s. She was diagnosed several years ago, and I would like if I said it’s been an easy road: it hasn’t.

Along this journey, before yesterday, she has had at least three “leaps” we’ve been able to observe:

  1. That “OMG” moment, when it became obvious to me that something was off: I had dropped her off in church, to pick her up an hour later. After mass was over, I kept waiting and waiting for her, to be surprised by her phone call… from her home. She had gotten a ride back home, because she had forgotten I was outside. Soon after that day, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  2. She had been living for nearly two years in an Independent Living facility, and some things pointed at the need for her to get more assistance in her day-to-day, things that resulted in her taking less care about herself than we were used to see her do. When I spoke with the Executive Director at her residence, she told me we needed to find my mom a place where she could get Memory Care… she was taking a “leap” into a new level of care.”
  3. For a few months now, more often than not she doesn’t remember I am her son. She still associates me with someone “familiar” (a kind gentleman, and at times, she is sure I am her younger brother). The first time that this happened, it was very hard to accept…

Yesterday, a new “leap” happened. I was used to her repeating herself: conversations with my mom have been cyclical for quite some time. The same topic comes back over and over. But yesterday, she started repeating words and short phrases, over and over. For example, she would tell me:

“Señor, señor, señor, señor, señor…” (“Sir, sir, sir, sir, sir…”)

This is all very fresh, and not easy. We will continue to be there for her. But it’s not easy… it’s not easy… it’s not easy…

My mother’s #Alzheimers

Back in February 2015, a friend of mine in NY inspired me to blog about my experience with my mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease. So far, I had only blogged once about her condition since her diagnosis in 2001, three years ago, and tweeted about it here and there, during particularly difficult times.

My mother has Alzheimer’s Disease
She was “diagnosed” in 2011. Back in 2011, she was 81. Now she is 85, and you can guess: things haven’t gotten better.

She used to be a very go-getter type person, very independent. One day I dropped her off in church (she used to drive back then, but she wanted me to drive her). I told her I’d wait for her outside in one hour. An hour went by, and she wouldn’t come out… nearly 20 minutes after the hour, she called me from her apartment.

She had gotten a ride home with a fellow parishioner… she had all forgotten that I was going to pick her up. This event, combined with a couple of instances of her getting lost in the Berkeley traffic (those of you who’ve lived here know this to be a joke!) raised a red flag.

We brought her to a geriatric specialist who confirmed the “diagnosis”. I use double-quotes because, unlike things like diabetes, where you can test your fasting blood sugar and establishing nearly without doubt if someone has the condition or not, with Alzheimer’s, it is trickier. As the Alzheimer’s Association would say:

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s.

Of the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s, back in 2011 my mom had 6. She now has 7.

In the coming months and years (however long she has left with us), I will share bits and pieces of my mom’s Alzheimer’s story, using the alzheimers tag in this blog.

For now, I leave you with a photo of her and her grandson (my son) that I took today.

Mama_mar_26_2015