Valerie shares openly that her mother wasn’t the best mother as she raised Valerie and her siblings. Valerie never expected that healing in the relationship could occur in the context of Alzheimer’s disease, but it did. When Valerie’s mother got Alzheimer’s in her eighties and could no longer live safely on her own, the children moved her across the country to live in a senior living community near Valerie’s home. This was their deal. When the time came, Valerie would do what was needed for their mother and her sisters would be in charge of their father’s care.
It’s one thing to agree to something far ahead of it becoming a reality. Valerie knew she could do what had to be done but was not looking forward to taking on the role of primary caregiver to their mother. But as they spent time together and the Alzheimer’s progressed, Valerie noticed her mother’s personality changing. Her mother became far less harsh and critical. Instead of dreading the visits, Valerie looked forward to them and appreciated their time together. Her mother, for the first time in Valerie’s memory, was kind and sweet. Valerie found activities for them to do together, which included reading children’s books. Valerie’s mother smiled and chuckled as she read and appreciated the illustrations. By the time Valerie’s mother died, Valerie and her siblings had forgiven her and felt resolved in their relationship with her.
Valerie feels strongly that unfinished business would have remained if her mother never got Alzheimer’s. And as sad as Valerie was to see how the disease impacted her mother, a part of her appreciated the growth that became possible in their relationship. This certainly is not everyone’s story, but it is also not uncommon to find unexpected ways of resolving issues and connecting across Alzheimer’s.