Dear Mom,

When I was young, you clothed me, fed me, and taught me right from wrong. You gave me my faith, showed me laughter and how to have fun. You said study hard and never be a quitter. The house was clean, food was on the table, the bath was ready, and the bed was warm. Lessons taught so young. You loved me.

When I was a teen, you let me fly, but you were always there, waiting to catch me if I should fall. I studied hard, had my faith, and had a lot of fun. The food was on the table, the bed was warm, and you loved me.

I fell in love and you were there to share my happiness. A ring was on my finger and I was engaged! Your smile said it all. You loved me.

My wedding day came after months of planning. The times we shared were fun. You dressed me in my gown, as tradition holds. I can still feel your hand on my shoulder, fixing me. I can still feel your loving touch. We are best friends now, too. We shopped until we dropped, we laughed, shared a meal and a movie. I cried, you cried, I laughed, you laughed. And you loved me.

I'm having a baby; you're the first person I call. Nine months of waiting and my daughter is born. We took her home, and who do we see? My mother is waiting in our home to care for baby and me.

The phone rings, a mother's plea, "Help me," you say. My home is open, and you come live with me.

You get lost, can't find your way home; thank goodness you did. How frightened you must have been, but you made it a joke to shelter me.

Forgive me, Mom. I missed all the signs. Alzheimer's disease has taken over your mind way too young.

You're not coming home because you don't want to be a burden, so you insist on placement. You were never a burden, but now I know why. You didn't want our lives invaded by this ugly disease. A brave, unselfish act—the gift of a mother's unconditional love.

We built a lifetime of trust, a mother-daughter bond. You sign a paper entrusting me with your life. Neither of us worry because we still have love.

Your body is still strong, but your brain is deteriorating. We still go shopping, and we still share a movie and a meal. I bring you back to the nursing home and I shed a tear. We exchange an "I love you" and a warm embrace. I'll be back tomorrow to see your beautiful face.

I'm sorry, Mom. I can't fix this disease. It's taken its toll. Your memories are gone, but I remember for us both. I now feed you, clothe you, try to make you laugh, and ensure you have food and a warm bed. I pray for peace while holding your hands. I look up and see your smile, though no words spoken. Only love fills the air.

My daughter is grown now, and she is flying herself. I've taught her the lessons, as you did me. She studies hard and is having fun. She's not a quitter and her faith is strong. The food is on the table, and her bed is warm. You see, Mom, I passed on your love. So if one day Alzheimer's comes to me, I won't have to worry. Your love lives on endlessly.

Your loving daughter,

Michele