You look like her. You look like Mum, only smaller. Compressed. Like an almost perfect replica but those close to you can spot it isn’t really you. Alzheimer’s has stolen your light, clouded your horizon & drained your reservoir.
We never were close as a family, too many secrets & lies. Too many things shared that make us wary of each other. Unspoken understanding that we’ll never acknowledge the past. I don’t think we even liked each other that much when the flood had subsided & we tried to put everything back together. I think you’re embarrassed at the hours spent confessing to me when I was a kid. Using me as a safe place to put your fear & loathing. It helped you but it filled me up with things I’m still battling to this day.
You gave me an understanding and insight into the bestial nature of humans that no teenager should have. You forced me to grow up too quickly. Instead of support, love and affection, you dug a pit inside me and filled it with your rage. Your anger. Your hurt. Your pain. Your blame.
You used me as target practice for every male in your life that had ever wronged you. I wore a thousand masks so you could vanquish your foes. You never let me forget the sacrifices you made for us. You wore those wounds with pride & used them as weapons. But I was the only one around. I wasn’t the enemy. I was injured too. Everything you suffered, I did too. And I was a child with no understanding of why.
And now you have Alzheimer’s. And I have to look after you. I have to forget all the arguments & shouting. I have to forget cups thrown at me, being told I wasn’t a good person. I have to forget all that. I have to make sure you’re Ok, I have to listen to you wish for death. I have to listen to you tell me my sister is hiding your tv remote. I have to stand there and explain when you call the police to say I’ve broken in and shouldn’t be there.
The ugly truth? I resent the burden you have become. I rang you once a month when you were still you, if that much. Even though you lived round the corner, I barely came by did I? But I owe you a duty of care. Being family means I have to. Even though I don’t like you, I love you.
Remember your heart attack? You were screaming abuse at me in the garden. But I still drove you to the hospital. Because you’re my mum.
It’s conflicting. Part of me feels your Alzheimer’s is a cruel cosmic joke. 44yrs old and you still have a hold on my life. You ring and txt every single day. You didn’t do this when you were well. You were as happy as I was to have minimal contact. But now you’re ill, we both pretend everything was fine & we were a perfect family.
And I have to let this happen. Because whatever the past, you are mum. And to a child, the mother is God. I owe you this illusion now, this belief we’ve always loved each other. But there are times I resent that you still cast shadows into my life.
I’ll take you shopping tomorrow & you’ll ask for the 5th time in 10mins how my son is & how you’re proud of the man I am today.
It’s taken you being hostage to this disease for you to tell me things I needed to hear decades ago. But that’s ok.
Love you mum x