I was very fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with my mother. As an adult, though I wouldn’t describe us as ‘best friends’, we were very close and I look back now and realise she guided so many of my decisions. We spoke on the phone at least three times a week, visited each other often, and I was (and I have always been) very attached to her. As a child I remember not wanting to go to school because it would mean being away from her. We had our differences, but on the whole she was my everything and with her now ‘gone’ I feel lost in the world.
And this for me is what I struggle with on a daily basis, my mother is 62 years of age, lives in a wonderful residential care home and other than her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, is in ‘perfect health’. The bit that I find so difficult to wrap my mind around is that she, my mother, the political activist, the lover, the sister, the comrade, the friend, the amazing woman, is gone.
We are now at the point that when she sees me I doubt that she knows that she is looking at her 35 year old daughter. In fact the part of her brain that held the memory of ever having children has quite possibly disappeared. I’ve long since stopped calling her ‘mum’, I now call her by her name; Jane. By doing so I wonder if this is a coping mechanism I’ve self imposed- if I don’t call her ‘Mum’ does it hurt less? Or is it simply that she no longer answers to the name Mum?
I visit her once a week. I live a 30 minute drive from her care home, and whilst the general excuse I put out to the world is that ‘I’m a busy wife and mother and I simply don’t have the time to visit more’, the truth feels far more selfish – I cannot face seeing her more than this. It hurts. It hurts because I miss her so desperately, yet she is physically standing in front of me. My brain cannot keep up with the pain in my heart, and it all becomes too much.