My Mother, I’ve posted briefly about her before.
She doesn’t know about this blog and she doesn’t use the internet. Since reading the prompt I’ve been turning over in my mind whether I should write this post. I recognise that being (relatively) anonymous it affords me freedom. I know my mother would be mortified if she ever read this post, for several reasons, that I think will become apparent. Ultimately, I decided this is my blog and my space and while it is her reality, it is also very much mine.
My mother and I have always had a complicated relationship, I won’t go into detail because this is only my point of view, I will sum of it up by saying I am glass half full and she is more glass half empty.
In the last couple of years she’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t talk about it and doesn’t want anyone to know. She has never been a confident person and always anxious. The illness impacts on her memory and so further erodes her confidence. Think for a moment how much you rely on the clarity of your memory and how fundamental it is.
She has become more anxious and this manifests itself in constant checking. She checks for her handbag, then she checks for her glasses and then again and then again. She presents a problem, you give her solution and she presents it again and again. I find it really stressful. It creates a barrier in her relationship with my son. It invariably goes the same way, he has a very clear speaking voice, but, as he speaks she speaks over the top of his words “what’s he saying?” anxious she won’t understand. He tells her about a toy and she responds with “you are gorgeous”. She becomes confused and more anxious, I explain what he has said. He tries again and she’ll say “I tell all my friends how gorgeous you are”. He doesn’t understand. She worries constantly that he will hurt himself. Which I find claustrophobic.
My parents live on a road where they know everyone. She is surrounded by structure and routine. Familiarity. Socially, she mixes with people she’s know since she was a child and she shares with them her clearest memories. My Dad has always been a man of infinite patience.
One the areas that have always separated us is her emphasis on tidying, cleaning and housework, something I don’t share. The photograph above is her dressing table, as it is now. The last time I visited I caught sight of her dressing table. It really brought home how far her illness had progressed. I stood before it, simply shocked. My Dad stood next to me, he explained he can’t keep on top of everything and he just lets it go. It felt terribly sad to realize that she has no idea how her former self would be appalled by the current state of her dressing table.
I rang her on Mother’s day. She was very emotional and told me how much she loved me, that’s a positive element of her illness because, honestly, until she was ill it was something she never said. For me, Mother Love is a complicated thing.