I had a great day today. Gave a really great presentation this afternoon at work, and finished it right on time. I left work smiling and really proud of myself! I headed to the CVS after work to pick up a prescription for my mom. Everything was going so well that I waited less then 3 minutes to pay for my prescription and leave. That was a new record for me at the usually very busy pharmacy counter.
I got to my mom’s group home at 5:13 pm exactly, which of course is dinner time. Because my mom eats very slowly, she was the only resident still at the dinner table. I knew right away. My mom smiled and said “Oh Hi!!”. It stopped me in my tracks, I smiled back said “Hi!!”. She said “it’s great to see you!”. This may not seem like a lot, but my mom’s usual greeting when I arrive is “Hi Retta!!” with all the excitement she can muster. It’s so heartwarming to watch her being so thrilled to see me. So, when she didn’t give her usual greeting today, I knew….. For the first time ever, my mom didn’t remember who I was. I played it cool and sat next to her as she finished her dinner, but I wanted to burst into tears and say really loudly, “it’s me Retta!!!!”. But what good would that have done? She asked me if she could go back to her room to read. I said yes. She asked If I knew where her room was and I said I’d take her there. As we got up, the group home’s caregiver Angelina asked my mom who I was. My mom hesitated. After a long couple of minutes, she said as if seeking confirmation, “ummmm my daughter I think?” Angelina said, “yes, that’s right, what’s her name?” My mom replied “I can’t think of it right now, but I think it will come to me”…. We waited and waited. it didn’t come. Finally I told her my name. My mom said “I like that name. Did I give you that name?”. “YEP”, I said proudly. “Good” she said, I picked a good name”. I was too distraught to say that I was named Loretta Anne after my father Lorenzo Anthony. After a few more minutes of chatter, I left ….. I immediately wanted to call Aunt Frannie and cry,…. but wait, that’s not possible given that Frannie died almost two months ago. So I sent a text to my friend who I knew would understand!! He gave me a virtual hug and I felt strong enough to drive home. I felt drained and defeated, but my love for my mom was as strong as ever. I know this isn’t her fault.. and I know I shouldn’t be hurt because she didn’t remember me, but I was.
After dinner I kept trying to push the fact that my mom couldn’t remember me or my name out of my head. And that she guessed that I was her daughter after much hesitation. Tears came to my eyes and THEN…… the phone rang. It was Kim, and our Kendal!! I quickly heard her say, “HIIIIIIIIIIIIII” as only an almost 22 month old can say. Immediately my heart was lifted. Kendal has trouble sometimes pronouncing the letter G, as in Grammy. But today, she clearly said in “GrrrrraaaaME” along with many choruses of “Hi Pappy”, also known as Tim. We yelled back and forth, over and over “Hi Kendal!!!!!”. During our conversation she also said “Miz U”, as in “I miss you” and “Wuv U” also known as “I love you”….. On this day, I didn’t care how she pronounced any words she said. What was important at that moment was that Kendal and I were having more of a conversation than I can now have with my mom. AND that Kendal knew me and my name without even seeing my face. Thank you Kim for having Kendal call on THIS heartbreaking night to say “night night” to us!!! It made me happy, and it made me laugh on a night that I really just wanted to cry. Love you Kendal!!!
I knew this day was coming!! It’s just occurred to me that as my mom’s words to me become less and less, simultaneously, Kendal’s words to and with me will become, (as she would say) “more and more”. Heartbreak and Happiness, it’s all a part of life, and I’m just working on conquering it all!!
Oh Ret, I am so heartbroken for you. I can only imagine how this was for you. Reading your post puts tears in my eyes as I know this crushes you. Yes, you knew this day would come, but I know even knowing that, it certainly didn’t make it any easier. And of course not having Aunt Frannie her as your sounding board made it even harder. I am so glad that you have Kendal, she is definitely a ray of light in yours and Tim’s lives. As I know you will, hold on to that ray, let her shine brightly and show you the beauty and the glory in your life. I love you, my sister and I wish I could ease your pain!
Loretta you are such a special person. We will handle these set backs together. You have all of my love and much much more.
It is hard, Loretta. But you are very special for her. Even she forgot your name, she knew that it was you and that counts. Continue enjoying her. You are a great daughter!!!
I’m so glad you have Tim to lean on. I can’t imagine how difficult this had to be for you. Loretta, you are a very strong woman and you have Tim who’s big enough to lean on. My prayers are with you.