I Don’t Remember Mom Complaining


My Mom got a horrific sunburn on the back of her legs when us kids were little. We were at the beach and she had to sit for the 45-minute drive home.

I don't remember her complaining.

My Mom didn't get her driver's license until I was out of the house. She was afraid to drive. So she walked to and from work for the nearly 30 years that she worked at one of our local elementary schools as the school secretary. Hot summer days, raining and freezing cold in the winter.

I don't remember her complaining.

One time she fell on the way home and when she walked in the door her eyebrow was bleeding profusely. She had no eyebrow on that side after that.

I don't remember her complaining.

She did all the shopping, all the laundry, all the cooking and most of the cleaning (whatever we kids didn't do for chores…which probably just added more work).

I don't remember her complaining.

My Mom worked hard for her family, very hard for each one of us, so that we would have what we needed, when we needed it. She taught us constantly in what she did, who she was and what she believed in.

I think that's why when dementia came into her life, it was so easy for me to give back to her.

There were horrendous things that happened. Battles over the phone, battles over food (she thought we were all trying to poison her), battles over using her walker—you name it, it became a battle.

She was terribly delusional, calling me once in a sheer panic, yelling, "Help me Leeanne, there's a man here in my bedroom and I don't know what to do!!"

It was my Dad. I calmly told her, "Mom, give the phone to that man, okay?" She said, "What?"

I said, "Give the phone to him, Mom, I will talk to him." My Dad came on and we talked for a bit, then he gave the phone back to my Mom and she had calmed down and I talked to her for a bit.

This journey of dementia—whether it's Alzheimer's, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, or any of the other dozens of types of progressive disease related dementia—is, I believe, a journey like no other.

We all know where we're going, we all know the last chapter in the book. The best we can do, the best we can hope for and accomplish in this journey is to live and love today, as we deal with this incredible heartbreak.

Dementia taught me that that is really all any of us have. We have today.

I learned to stop complaining so much, because of dementia. When it brings you and your loved one to the point that the biggest positive of the day is a wink, or smile, or maybe a "hello"…. it makes you refocus on what is really important. And it makes you realize that there's no time to waste. Each moment is precious, a treasure.

My Mom taught me not to complain long ago. Dementia showed me the reason why.

Leeanne Chames advocates for dementia awareness, having lost her mother to Vascular Dementia and her mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s. She is the Executive Director of Memory People, an online dementia and memory impairment support and awareness group, and assists Rick Phelps, the founder of Memory People, in bringing awareness to these diseases.

Memory People

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Each day, my 87 year old mother thanks me for all I do for her. She never gets angry with me when I become frustrated with her repetitious questions or her inability to make simple decisions. She. understands, to the degree she can with her dementia, the burden she has become since moving in with my husband and myself. However, I am determined to give her the best life possible and the dignity she deserves. Was she the perfect mother when I was growing up? No, but being a mother of two grown sons myself, I can demonstrate to them what it means to be a greatful and loving child for the sacrifices our parents have made. None of us is perfect but we do what we are capable of doing to help our loved ones manage the challenges of dementia . Seeing my mother decline in her cognitive abilities has been a such a sad experience for me. However, my mom shows me every day how to be strong and thankful for every blessing. Anyone who cares for a loved one with dementia knows too well the emotional and sometimes physical stress which has become a constant in thief life. Learn to be kind to yourself and accept help whenever it's offered. My friend told me recently, that by taking care of my mother I'm doing god's work. I like to think about those words when I have self pity days.
It was a beautiful commentary from a loving daughter to a mother. I wouldn't read anything more into it. :)
It was a joy to read this! What a positive attitude and no doubt she learned that from her Mom. God bless you both!