Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Roswell, NM

"You know, Lynn next door? She and I have lived in the same neighborhood three different times in our lives. Now we're right next door to each other here," Mom says of her neighbor in assisted living.

Every day, Mom tells me that story about Lynn next door. Every day we laugh just the same.

Every morning Lynn and Mom discover anew that they have the exact same shoes.

Mom, at 81, is one of the youngest of the 15 residents at her facility. She was diagnosed last year with Lewy Body Dementia, a form of dementia with characteristics of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. So far, Mom's symptoms have been mild. She has some short-term memory loss and her hands shake, especially if she's tired or upset.

Lunchtime parking.
Last year, staying with Mom in her townhouse, I watched every morning as she relearned where everything was in her own kitchen. (Unfortunately, at the end of the day, she would put all the dishes away in new places, allowing me to play along as well.)

With Mom living alone, it was hard to find any sweetness to counterbalance the sad reality of memory loss. We worried constantly that she would try to cook and forget the stove was on, that she would go for a walk and lose her way home, or fall and break her hip, which is exactly what happened in June.

Now with Mom safe here in assisted living with others to cook, do laundry and administer meds, I see dementia with different eyes. Mom, who used to fret about the past and worry about the future, now lives fully in the moment, the weight of the last one gone, forgotten. She has no concerns about a future that doesn't exist, because she can't remember to envision it and then worry about it.

For now, memory loss is a sweet gift wrapped in bitter paper. For now, I'll toss aside the paper and treasure the gift. And, if possible, follow Mom's lead and just let the future be.

And tomorrow, we'll laugh about the news that Mom and Lynn, yet again, live next door to each other.

The visiting minstrel at Mom's home. He was annoyed at me, 
because he thought I meant to take a photo and never did.


  1. Poignant entry, Tammy. You encapsulated so well the gifts that are there for the taking if one so chooses. I applaud you.

  2. Your Mom is beautiful, and doesn't look 81. Great post. You've described a chapter of life - caring for our elder family members - that is so familiar, but you've articulated a different and thoughtful perspective on it. No past, no future - just the moment, albiet a repetitive and cyclical version. Best wishes for those repeated moments to remain pleasant and sweet for your Mom.