A letter to my mom on Mother’s Day
purple tulips for ALZ

Dear Mom,

If you remember the mom you were, you don’t show it now. But I remember. That’s why I’m still here with you, and will always do the best I can for you, but it is hard. Hard to watch you decline, hard to watch the care you receive, or don’t receive, and be helpless to make a difference. But I keep trying. It is not the natural progression of age that caused you to be this way, it is Alzheimer’s Disease, and I know you are scared. Scared to be alone, scared to forget, even scared to live, but maybe not so scared to die. When your quality of life is diminished, you don’t want a feeding tube, and I agree. What’s the point? This life is done, let it go.

I will try to be strong for you. You were always a survivor, and even your grandchild learned that from you. You did what you had to do and were unapologetic about it. You got your divorce, and without alimony or much child support you got us through it. You almost didn’t make it when cancer arrived and changed your body forever so long ago. Funny, your ex-husband, my father, has finally started helping you (and me) a little financially. I am grateful for his help, or anyone’s help for that matter. My neighbors across the street invite me over for dinner a couple times each week. I appreciate that as well. We watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’, like everyone else, and try to guess the phrase.

I want to rewind the last 4 years and so badly change the outcome, and wonder what life could have been without this thing happening to your brain. I wish my 3 siblings were helpful and caring but they aren’t. Sometimes I wish we had a little more ‘normal’ in our life. I wish you had found a partner to share your life with, and especially now, someone besides me to love you. To care for you. To hold you when you are scared, or sad. Or mad. It breaks my heart every day to see you like this. You tell me to slow down and be patient with you. Every task is a challenge and you are trying to remember what to do, even with the simplest of tasks.

Maybe you understand when I tell you our life is so different now. Maybe you don’t understand why you can’t call up the doctor, or go get your hair done, or go for a drive in the car. Or why I’m not there 24/7 like I used to, because I have to work more. I know what you need to have ‘your best life’ right now, such as it is. It is the same for all the residents there, and everywhere who are suffering from this disease. You don’t want to be alone. In a bed. In a dark room. That time will come soon enough, when you can no longer move your body or communicate with the outside world. What then? No happy ending…

So until then, I will be here for you, love you, hold your hand, and give you a 20 second hug, because that’s what it takes to make it real. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you every day. And maybe some candy and flowers!

Your baby boy,

Phillip Edward

Written by Phil Chwalinski
Phil spent 25 years as a specialist in catering and special events in Arkansas, then Florida, and ending up in California for 11 years. He was a Catering Sales Manager at a hotel and as a Wine Educator at a luxury winery in Napa Valley, CA. For the last 3 years he has been a full time caregiver for his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, back in Arkansas. One thing hasn't changed over the years - Phil is also an artist.

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  1. This is so sweet, Phil. It made me tear up. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you for saying so.

  2. Thank you.

  3. Phil, it’s hard, dementia took my mom also, she didn’t understand. I didn’t understand. I stood by her and grasped the moments that were her. I was afraid, she was afraid, my siblings were also afraid but showed it by not being helpful, instead by being hurtful. We all handle things differently, do the best you can and thank god your mom has you to be the strong one to help her get to the end with this horrible disease. Bless you and hang in there. They are worth our love.

  4. Just lovely, Phil. Those of who cared for a parent/parents can identify with every word having been there myself. I can replace your mom’s name with mine and it would be just as apropos.

    Sincerely, Petra :))

    • Thank you. My mom and I had a really good day today. We took a drive, stopped at home for some tea and pie. I painted her nails. We had lunch at McD’s. When we got back to the nursing home she laid down and went to sleep. It was a good day.


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