My mother suffered from Alzheimer's (although we didn't ask for an autopsy so it could have been some other form of dementia). I hope to God they find a cure for Alzheimer's. There is no way to describe the cruelty of this disease. The person you love fades away gradually like an old photograph left in the sunlight. They can live for years, becoming every day a tiny bit less aware of their surroundings, less able to care for themselves, to communicate, to live as a human. My mother was deaf and needed hearing aids, but for the last year or so of her life she couldn't wear them because she didn't know what they were. She would take them out of her ears and chew them. She probably didn't hear a word anyone said that last year unless they leaned over and shouted directly in her ear.
Thankfully, she never suffered the personality change that so many Alzheimer's patients do. She was always smiling, always cheerful, even when she couldn't make sense when she spoke. And now that she's gone, it's easier to remember the years that her mind was sharp, how kind she was, how much she loved her children and grandchildren. Every summer for twenty-five years we all chipped in and rented a big place at the beach (or a few times, the mountains). My sister and my brothers and I would all bring our families and spend a week together. For that one week, my family was literally extended to include 18 or so people sharing meals and playing charades and having a great time. Those were some of the best times of my life, and it was all because my mom wanted to keep her family together.
In some ways, we never grow up. No matter how well we handle our jobs, our mortgages, our own child-rearing chores, in the core of our being, we are still the same person who cried because of a bad dream, who wanted comfort for a skinned knee, who needed a mother's love more than anything in the world.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! We still love you. We always will.