Remember: Keep Them In Your Heart
When my mom was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer’s in 2003, her life drastically changed and so did the dynamics of her family. Every holiday, every important event she handled, invited everyone and had a house full of company.
Nothing was ever too hard for her to do for anyone and if it meant driving hours alone in her car to help a sick relative, friend or neighbor she did. My mom was a rare person who put others before herself. Never asking for anything in return all she ever cared about was having her family around her on important occasions. So, why did this change just because she became ill? Although her mental status began to change she still knew her family, she still wanted company and she still understood who she was and embraced having her family around her.
But, as the years wore on and the illness depleted and wore away at her mind, things changed. All of a sudden the same nieces, nephews, and friends forgot that she was there. Phone calls stopped and the voices that she cherished and heard were silenced. Not because she was not there or something happened to them, but because they decided not to call anymore thinking she would not know them or recognize their voices. Not true. My sister and my brother would call her every day and she knew their voices and would say their names. All I had to say it is Marcia or Keith on the phone and she perked up took the phone and even if she did not respond, she smiled and listened.
People with dementia need to be spoken to, cared for and treated with dignity and respect, not like children. The one thing that I was blessed with were four home health aides that took outstanding care of her for the eight years that they were with us. It takes time to find the right people but when you do, you are truly lucky and Joan, Joyce, Pat, and Tess were part of our family for many years. Joan, Pat and Joyce for the entire 8 and Tess for just the last year. We had many replacement aides that took over when these four were out but that was rare.
So, why is it that they still call me and my family does not? I took care of my mom for over 10 years and would still be doing it if she had not just passed away. Family members need to remember that just because someone has this illness it does not mean you should stop coming on holidays and for special occasions. My sister and I would cater the food and invite everyone. The sad part is everyone went their own separate ways the last few years and now that my sister and mom are both gone they seem to be feeling the after effects. This past holiday we went out to a restaurant and had our family lunch there. Not, the same. But still, we managed to be together.
Before it’s too late remember that the person is still the same it is just their mental status that has changed. They cherish the moments that you are there and believe it or not remember that you came in their own way. My mom knew much more than most thought she did up until the very end. Her doctors could not believe that she survived so long. But, determination, keeping her in her own home and with the right care, was the answer.
My mom was amazing. We all say that about our moms, or should. Selfless, caring and yet very strict and set in her ways. School came first, friends came after you did your homework and studied if there was time. Piano, violin, dancing, language lessons and of course reading at least 6 books a week and taking notes on index cards to recall the plot in case you had to do a book report.
She taught us discipline, good study habits, respect and to understand and respect everyone and accept people for who they are and not what they look like. Friends were allowed to come over on the weekends and parties were always in our living room, which was as big as a twig. She would move the couch into the kitchen, the chairs in the hall and let us dance and have fun. My dad would make sure there was tons of food for everyone to eat and drove my entire friends home that lived too far to walk.
Why is it that everyone forgot about her at the very end? Why is it that the last holiday in the fall everyone wanted to go somewhere else? Why is it that we forget those who loved us and did the most for everyone?
Happy Mother’s Day Mom
Happy Mother’s Day Marcia my sister and my best friend
I will miss you forever more and more each day.
I will never forget the pranks we played on people growing up and the funny jokes we played on each other. I loved when we passed notes under our blankets and had to see using a flashlight so mom would not know we were still up. I miss going shopping with you on Thursdays to your favorite store that I never go to anymore without you. I miss those morning phone calls at seven asking me if I was up because you had to go to work and I had to give mom her meds. I miss you telling me you were going to visit my niece and nephew in Florida and someday I would get there too. I never resented you and I always loved the great stuff you brought back and of course writing the poems for every occasion that I never went to but felt a part of because I wrote the poems.
I loved writing poems with you for your office party and not until you passed away did I tell them that I wrote them. I have not written since. No fun without you.
So, to everyone out there do not wait until it is too late to visit someone or just make a phone call. Life is precious and embraces everyone while they are here.
I want to share these with everyone:
My sister my best friend you will never be far
Just look up in the sky and you will be the brightest star
Shining upon all of us and guiding our way
Controlling the weather making sure the sun shines on us each day
Your strength and your wisdom will remain inside of all of us you know
Whenever a problem arises we will ask ourselves what Marcia might do
Guiding us in the right direction so true
Remaining in our hearts we will always love you
You cleaned a room better than I ever could
While I supervised the event sitting on our bed as I should
I pointed to where each thing should go
Making sure that you did everything correctly you know
From ice -skating to dancing lessons you did excel
To singing in shows that you starred in I must tell
Your knowledge of finances far surpasses mine you see
Balancing a checkbook is an enigma to me
The circle of life has many curves and winding roads.
Each bend on the never-ending circle holds many things in store for us.
Some good some bad- at each bend we must learn to become
wiser and stronger in order to deal what comes next.
The ties that bind a family are fragile and yet strong.
We need to always remember that and celebrate our love of family and our closeness whenever possible.
The empty space in my heart that is left behind
Within this world we all know
Reminds us just how we must cherish each day
And how precious our time is before we go
Goodbyes are not forever
Nor is this the end
When the angels came to call you away
They took my sister, my confidant and best friend
You chose a pathway that brought you joy
Taking time to embrace each day
You appreciated the challenges that strengthened your soul
And the blessings in life that God sent your way
We laughed and cried together and were happily in debt
Never caring how much money we owed using each other as a safety net
Riches do not come in dollars, millions or even more
It’s the love of family and good health that we hoped for us God has in store.
You are my best friend, my partner in crime, confidante, and much more
Never telling on each other no matter what punishment was in store
We were two peas in a pod and one is going to be empty you see
I will always be your sister from now and in eternity.
You are the mother of two children who turned out the way you wanted them to
They loved you with all their hearts and were devoted to and true blue
So, my dear sister, I hope you can hear the words that I have tried to rhyme
As our Daddy would say to our mom each time he wrote a poem: I will love you forever wherever I am
TILL THE END OF TIME
I’m still here: Hear My voice: I Know where you are?
I am still here never forget me
I am in your hearts and will always be
Close by when you are lonely to guide you each day
Never forget I will always show you the way
I am your mother, your sister, your grandmother, aunt and so much more
I had a great life because of all of you and there is much more for all of you in store
You are my family, loved ones and friends that I knew
Never forget I will always be here for you
Your faces will be etched in my mind so clear
My son, daughter, and grandchildren, you are so very dear
My husband, my sister, brother and family I have to say
Loved me more than life each and every way
The doctors and staff who I worked closely with each day
Remember to run the office in my calm, cool and collected way
You are my second family and I know you will make me proud
When things get out of hand and the office has a rowdy crowd
Just think about what I would do and never forget this
I will be there to guide you whenever things go amiss
I loved coming to work I thrived on each challenge that came through the door
Remember that I will be watching you and guiding you and more
Jamie, Rob, Jason and Tammy rest assure that I love you so much
My life would not have been fulfilled without your loving touch
To everyone here what I will say is so true
Marcia Wallach will always be watching over you.
When companies merge into one the members of both need to work together and accept each other for the betterment of the company. When two families merge each new member must learn to understand and accept the newer members and embrace them making this new family even stronger and one.
My sister embraced everyone she met equally. It did not matter whether you were in her family or her extended one; everyone was loved the same way and treated with respect and Marcia’s brand of love and caring.
Marcia learned to accept the reality of situations whether she liked them or not. She realized that a problem was a problem and never ran away from them but tried to solve them in her own special and methodical way. But, in doing so she put the feelings and needs of others way ahead of her own. The burdens that she carried were only known to her and often masked by her smile, her sunny personality and her compassion for others.
You enriched so many lives, especially mine, your children’s and your brothers with your calm, cool and even-tempered personality that always knew how to defuse problems before they got worse. You taught me when to step back and tack a deep breath. I could not fix what was wrong with you and for that, I am truly sorry but I can put the pieces of the puzzle together that still need to fit and then I will have fixed what needs to be done for you.
Our family might be missing you but your picture will always be in our frame and in our hearts.
You will always be in my heart and I will think about you every day for the rest of my life.
Having a husband with dementia and being his caregiver is at times difficult but always rewarding – most of his family accepts the limitations and like I, look and embrace the times of lucidity; but like you had, I too must deal with friends and family who shy away from contact as if it is a disability that is contagious – the sad part in this is not only the person with dementia that is losing the joy of contact but the ‘too busy’ to stop to just say hello.