More and more when I visit my mom, Rose Beebe, 88, I find her crying.
Having endured several falls and three seizures over the past few months, she is now wheelchair bound. She can no longer take walks with me, dance to her favorite music or accompany me to a restaurant for chocolate cake and ice cream.
I am grieving these losses and I can tell she is too.
With this loss of mobility and freedom and her advancing Alzheimer's, Mom is spending more time pondering her life. On a recent visit, she struggled to explain her feelings to me.
"I can't hold onto my thoughts. It's not fascinating enough to hold my attention. I can't remember things that happened to me and it makes me want to cry. I just can't remember much of anything and it just rocks me. I don't know what to do. I can't remember anything of life anymore," she sobbed, wiping tears from her eyes.
I took a deep breath, steeling myself to support Mom without bursting into tears myself.
"What am I going to do with my life?" she asked, pausing for a bit to cry some more. "It upsets me. I still keep trying all the time with things to keep them as I should. I can't get anything working. Isn't it funny how things change and move around? Because it's life," she said, looking me in the eye.
"I have doubts about my family - about who I am and where I belong, and then I'll be alright. I'm kind of mixed up in my world. Is it that time for it? That you don't know people and a lot of things? What do you believe?"
"I believe I love you, Mom," I gulp.
She flashed a big smile.
"God, I love you," she said, patting my face. "You've got pretty eyelashes," she said, practically poking me in the eye. "What are you writing?"
"I'm writing about you and me for the newspaper."
"Oh!" she gasped, "I think we had a good get together."
I hoped I had distracted Mom from this conversation that was difficult for me, but she quickly got serious again, talking about Bethune, the small town in South Carolina where she lived before moving into a memory care facility.
"There's nobody there to speak of for me since the family broke up. But I guess they had their ideas, didn't they? Life has changed with your Dad, a lot of people have died. I can't straighten it out at all, can you? All of us were clamped together," she said, clasping her hands together to emphasize her point, "and then before long we were all apart. I keep trying to figure out, has life changed?"
I am at a loss for words, taken aback by Mom's philosophizing. Before I can come up with an answer, she catches me off guard again.
"How happy are you in your life?"
I do an instant inventory of my life and the challenges I've faced in the past months and honestly answer, "So-so."
"Have you almost omitted me?"
"What do you mean?" I ask with a twinge in my heart.
"Am I out of your picture or am I still in your picture?"
"You're still in my heart, Mom," I reply, the twinge going deeper.
"Well, you'll always be in mine," she said, giving me a kiss.
A friend of Mom's who also has Alzheimer's wanders into the room and asks who I am. Before I can respond, Mom takes control.
"She takes care of me. I have a lot of problems. When I cry she comes to help me."
Then Mom turned to me and added, "We did good with this job. We learned a lot didn't we? I cried because of the enjoyment. You gave me the enjoyment and I love you so. People should look after people when they are having trouble. I'm glad I have such a good person to help me."
I squeeze Mom and thank her for the compliment.
"This came out of my heart, all by myself," she said proudly.
As the twinge in my heart turns to pure love, I realize how blessed I am for this conversation.
Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.