Meeting Mom Where She Is

Thompson, Cathy

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000511221.51525.bf
Departments: Letters

San Antonio, TX

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I really felt for Kimberly Williams-Paisley and her family when I read the article about their struggles with their mother's primary progressive aphasia (“Shining a Light,” August/September 2016, http://bit.ly/NN-ShiningALight). My mother also had the disease, which progressed to Alzheimer's disease before she passed away. It was painful knowing there were things she wanted to say to us but no longer could. At times, we ascertained her desires through her facial expressions. I choose to believe she never forgot who we were, as her face did light up each time she saw us. We will never know, though, because she lost the ability to speak long before those memories would have faded. Like Williams-Paisley, it was liberating for me to accept my mother for who she was at every stage. We always talked to her about our childhood to keep the memories alive for all of us. But we created special rituals in the present, too. When she came to live with me, I hung a bird feeder outside her window so we could watch the birds together. We also watched movies together. I wish Mom had never had this disease, but I'm grateful for the years I had to enrich her experience as much as I could. I look forward to reading Williams-Paisley's book.

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—Cathy Thompson

San Antonio, TX

© 2016 American Academy of Neurology