Dear Mom,

When I was young, you clothed me, fed me and taught me right from wrong. You gave me my faith, taught me laughter and showed me how to have fun. You told me to study hard and never be a quitter. Our house was clean, there was food on the table and our beds were warm. Important 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, strengthened my faith and had a lot of fun. The food was on the table, my 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. You dressed me in my gown, as tradition holds. I can still feel your hand on my shoulder, helping me primp. I can still feel your loving touch. We are best friends at that point, too. We shopped until we dropped, we shared meals and movies. When I cried, you cried; when I laughed, you laughed. And you loved me.

I’m having a baby and you’re the first person I call. After nine months of waiting, my daughter is born. When we took her home, who did we see? You waiting in our home to help care for baby and me.

Years later, the phone rings and I hear a mother’s plea: “Help me.” My home is open and you come live with me.

One day, you get lost and 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. You don’t want to be a burden, so you insist on placement in memory care. You were never a burden, but now I know why you made that decision. It was a brave, unselfish act—the gift of a mother’s unconditional love. You didn’t want our lives invaded by this ugly disease.

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

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Your body is still strong, but your brain is failing. We still go shopping, and we still share a movie and a meal. But when I bring you back to the nursing home, 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 has taken its toll. Your memories are gone, but I will 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 are spoken. Only love fills the air.

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

Your loving daughter,