Today I leave my Mom (Pinkie Patti) again.
Each time it gets harder and harder, because the next time I see her, if there is a next time, I know she will be worse than she is now. Maybe she won’t remember who I am…
Pinkie Patti has Alzheimer’s. It’s a terrible disease in which one slowly looses one’s mind. It’s cruel to its victims to be sure, but possibly even more cruel to those they love.
Family and friends despair as their loved one becomes more and more confused, regressing into a child-like state from which they will never emerge.
Alzheimer’s sufferers never get “better;” they just travel the road of decline toward death (as I guess, in a sense, we all do in one way or another). Sometimes the ravages of the disease tear families asunder, as they have done with mine.
This deadly dementia is one of the tragedies of life, one I will likely share with my Mom, her two sisters, and five great aunts, as well as millions more the world over. I suspect this long goodbye will be my destiny too.
Destiny or not, however, I don’t do goodbyes of any sort very well. For me, sadness and tears inevitably accompany them. Sometimes I also suffer a broken heart, as I will again today when I say goodbye to Pinkie Patti once more.
Time, of course, heals all wounds, no matter how they are inflicted. And I remember that amidst the sorrow, we have also danced for joy.
To help the healing process after goodbyes, I often turn to an anonymous entry I discovered in guest book at a youth hostel more than 30 years ago.
The melancholy, yet somehow also hopeful words touched my heart at the time, and I copied them into my diary, which travels with me to this day. All of this was long before blogs, through which millions now keep their diaries online (see Like a Virgin?)
The passage goes like this:
Goodbyes are sad things. You leave behind dreams that you’ve worked to make real, friends that you’ve suffered to love and sometimes a quiet security that was built with half a lifetime.
On the road, and in life everywhere, you move along and you leave your efforts behind you in the dust, knowing deep inside that you will never find them exactly the same.
Often you spend too much time looking back and you miss something ahead. But there’s little use in trying to escape the loneliness and anxiety that go with you when you move on… for that is life and it is a certainty.
The road teaches you to accept goodbyes as part of saying hello to things that are new, different, and often better. It teaches that what was loved and learned in the past can never be lost, though we sometimes have to let it go.
On the road, and in life everywhere, you spend much time learning, wondering and yes, sometimes remembering.