“Hey Mom, it’s Heather, your oldest daughter”
“Hey Sweetie, how are you?”
And then it begins, Gibberish. It’s my mom’s voice but nothing makes sense. She is speaking with expression. Using simple words, often repeating them over and over. Strings of words and incomplete thoughts. I listen intently, hoping to discover her somewhere. Hoping to hear something that makes sense. Hoping to recognize a memory or a feeling or an expression to let me know she is still there. But the Gibberish continues, sometimes for a couple of minutes, sometimes for a half hour. But it’s all I have left to give her. My listening ear at the other end of the phone. And so I sit, and take it all in, and sometimes laugh, but often cry. The words continue until I gently tell her I have to go.
“Mom, I love you so much. You are such a good mom. I have to go now but I love you.”
“I love you too Sweetie, Bye”
Each and every conversation begins and ends the same way. It’s as if for the first and last seconds that we speak she innately knows that she is my mom. Maybe it’s my voice. Maybe it’s that I clearly identify myself as her daughter. Maybe it’s simply hearing the word MOM. It makes absolutely no sense, but yet it makes perfect sense. When every memory is gone, when every word is taken, when every ability is stripped away, her identity as a mom remains. I am part of her. I lived inside her. She nourished me and held me and loved me longer than anyone on this earth. And while Dementia continues to steal her from us, it has yet to get it’s hands on that place in her heart and soul that screams to her over all the Gibberish, “YOU ARE A MOM AND THIS IS YOUR DAUGHTER, AND YOU LOVE HER AND SHE LOVES YOU!”
I will cling to every last second I have with my mom. I will look forward to our phone calls. I will sift through the Gibberish and wipe away the tears and always cherish these words, “I love you too Sweetie, Bye.”
Happy Mother’s Day!