Friday, May 7, 2010

A Mother's Day Special - When Your Parent/Child Roles Reverse.....

Here is my 82 year old mom. Doesn't she look pretty? I had just fixed her hair up so nice as my siblings were coming to visit with her.

Bless her heart, she has dementia and severe short-term memory loss. Some is hereditary and a lot is self-abuse. She has battled alcoholism for most of the last 50 years. She has smoked for that long as well and still continues. For whatever reason, her body is healthy, but that hard living has destroyed her mind.

It has been a struggle for my sister and I to take care of her. She lived with my sister the longest as they enjoyed doing a lot of the same things together. However, over time, it became more than my sister could handle being on her own and responsible for our mom.

In time, we moved her here to our home. I painted her room in the lilac purple that she just loves. We hung her old pictures all over the room. She had many puzzles that she put together and my sister glued to hang. She wanted them hung on the wall as well. I didn't mind as it was her room and it made her happy.

Even with all the things we did to make her feel at home, she just never adapted very well to living with us. She had lived for so long with my sister and it was just the two of them. They both smoked and when she moved in with us, she had to smoke outside because none of us smoke and didn't want it in the house. She could never remember where everything was in the house. My mom was the hardest worker I have ever known next to my honey. She had always loved to help people, especially her family. While she lived with us, she would always find something she could do around the house. Whether it was emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry, she was always working! However, when I would need something it was always a "seek and find" mission to determine where she might have put it!! It became a game that would make her laugh.

I was working so she was home alone during the day. When I would get home, she would be so agitated because she would get so confused and angry. It got to the point where you just never knew what she would be like when I got home. The grandsons that she worshiped and treated better than she ever treated her kids became a sore spot with her. They would tell me how they missed the old, loving grandma. She would yell at them and at us for things that she had confused in her mind. She was angry at us for taking away her "transportation" but we just couldn't take the chance that she would drive off somewhere and forget where she was or have an accident.

I eventually volunteered to take a severance package at work so I could be home with her. I thought that would improve things but nothing changed. If anything, it began to weigh on me and was affecting my relationships with my husband and boys. After about 9 months, my sister and I decided it was time to move her to a skilled nursing facility. That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I took care of the paper work and moving her belongings there but I give so much credit to my sister for actually physically getting her there.

Since that time, I helped to move her 84 year old sister into the same room with her at the home. That has been the greatest blessing of all. They are both the same with memory so they can talk about the old times with each other and forget the new stuff together! It is still hard to leave her there each time I visit, but overall she is very happy there with the structure and her sister.

Here they are together at our house for Christmas. We gave them a small handful of old pictures that they passed back and forth between them for over an hour. Neither would remember looking at the picture the first time so it was like a new picture every time! It is so sad to watch but we have to find the humor in life when we can.

I thought I would share this story as I know there are so many others that must be going through this in their lives. I don't have any answers but I so sympathize with all of you. We try to do what is best for our families. I pray to God many times that I hope we did the right thing. Oh how hard it is to become the parent to your parent.

This Mother's Day, I will try to make a special day for her even though she won't remember it, because I will remember.

Happy Mother's Day to the wonderful mother's in the world!


  1. Bonnie I am crying reading your story as I can relate to this as well. My father is very ill and in the beginning stages of Alzeimers. It is so hard on my Mom and my sister and her family. They all live in Florida. My hubby is stationed here in NC so it makes it very difficult for me to see them very often. Sigh.
    Then I feel guilty I'm not doing more for them to help.

    Your Mom and her sister are just beautiful. You did the right thing. You are a kind and caring person.

    Blessings to you and yours. ~Melissa

  2. Very sweet post Bonnie. I did the best you could do. Never doubt your decision. She is happier and it took the strain off your family.

    Have a wonderful mother's day.


  3. I understand. It really sounds like your mom is in a good place right now.

    My mom has dementia and it's so, so sad and so hard.

  4. Bonnie this is so lovely, thank you for sharing such a heart-felt story.
    Our mothers are our most precious gift and (you) and I wouldn't be the women we are today if it weren't for the gift they gave
    Bless you,

  5. That is so sweet, what can i say!...have a wonderful mothers day, sounds like your doing a fine job everyday bonnie!!!
    god bless you all
    Angie x

  6. What a sweet story! You made me tear up a little there. Happy Mother's Day to you!

  7. Oh Bonnie, this just really touched me. My mother was an alcoholic and it is horrible the way it destroys the body and mind. The hardest day of my life was when I had to put my mother in a nursing home at the age of 53. I sat in the car when I left and cried for an hour. I couldn't help her and knew it was for the best, but couldn't get my heart to understand it. She died in spring of 1997 and I still miss her. She apologized to me shortly before she died for how drinking had kept her from me for many years and now was taking her from me too early. That meant a lot to me. I miss her so much and think of her all the time. I am glad you get to be with your mom still and how wonderful for her to have her sister with her. I wish you a wonderful Mother's Day!

  8. Thanks for stopping by. Such a heart warming post on Mother's Day. God Bless. I look forward to exploring your blog.

  9. Bonnie, that is a very heartfelt story. I can relate, I took care of my Grandfather for many years. After my grandmother passed, I moved in with him at the young age of 23, I took care of him, the house, just like a wife. Then I got married and had to leave him, it was so difficult for so long as I would go over to his home, my Mom helped out too and the two of us just would alternate our duties...then we moved to South Florida and I could not leave him, he came with us, and lived a good life til it was his was all a strain when he became ill...but fortunately the good Lord did not let him hang on too long....I miss him so much everyday, 10 years later. Enjoy your Mom, I can see her sweetness in her face...she is so lucky to have you and your sister.

  10. Hi Bonnie,
    I'm tearing up a bit reading this post as my Mother was 73 last week and has been an alcoholic for the last 25 years or so. For the majority of this time my sister and I struggled to 'make her better' - my brother severed ties with her for some time as her behaviour had been too hurtful and he felt my sister and I were allowing ourselves to be victims to more abuse from my mother. Thankfully something happened over 9 years ago and she sought help to stop drinking and my sister and I went to Al-Anon to help us recover from the abuse of being the child of an alcoholic. She has only slipped once or twice in the last few years and our relationship now is better than it's been in a long time.
    It's such a horrible illness - my mother was an educated woman with a good career but no self esteem and drank to hate herself less, I suppose. I just wanted to say that although painful, it's good to share this kind of thing as you realise you're not alone out there! I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day (we have Mother's Day in March in the UK unlike the rest of the entire world!)and thanks for stopping by my blog.


I know how busy you are and appreciate that you are taking the time to leave me a comment! God Bless! Bonnie


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