The Mighty Logo

What My Mom With Alzheimer's Purse Taught Me About Missing Someone

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

It seems like just yesterday I was driving my mom to the hairdresser or out to go shopping. She would always sit in the passenger seat, fidgeting with this purse. She would constantly open it up and take everything out to see what was inside.

For a long time, my mom carried this rolled up piece of newspaper in her purse. The story was about a boy with a disability going to school or something along those lines. She swore she knew this boy and his family. She always told me how she went to school with him and all the kids said his back was crooked. Maybe she went to school with a boy like that, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

Something about this story stuck with her and so, she cut it out, rolled it up, and put it in her purse. She obsessed over it nonstop, constantly checking the contents of her purse to make sure the newspaper was still inside. She also obsessed over her cell phone, probably because my dad made a big deal of making sure she always had it with her, and her glasses.

It drove me crazy.

I remember snapping at her and begging her to just leave it alone. I told her the more she opened it up and took everything out, the more likely she would be to lose something. But it didn’t matter. None of that made sense to her. She had a constant nagging worry that she would lose something, and the only thing that made her feel better was to go through the contents of her purse.

Eventually, she stopped worrying about the purse altogether. She put it down one day and never picked it up again. I don’t remember when exactly, but it’s been at least four years since she carried it.

I saw her purse sitting on the kitchen table at my parents’ house one day and it broke me. I never thought I would be so sad to see this damn purse. It caused me so much stress and frustration for so long, but there I was, crying at the sight of it.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Caregivers' Corner group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Get the support you give. Join the Caregivers' Corner to connect with others who are taking care of someone with a health condition or disability. Click to join Caregivers' Corner.

This purse is so much more than just a purse.

It symbolizes a time when my mom was able to carry a purse. A time when she even knew what a purse was. A time when she was able to get into the car and go out with me. A time when she carried a cell phone in that purse because although it was a struggle for her, she could still answer it and talk to the person who called.

I’m sitting here crying as I write these words.

My heart breaks and yearns for all of the things I’ll never get back, even the things that once drove me crazy. Back then, all those years ago, my worst, hardest, darkest day doesn’t even begin to compare to the pain I feel now.

The sadness.

The loss.

The grief.

The grief of losing a purse that my mom once clutched so tightly in her arms and so close to her heart. A purse that I never thought I would miss until it was gone one day.

I wish I could go back in time to a day when I was driving my mom in my car to the hairdresser or to go shopping. I would gladly allow her to rummage through her purse as many times as she felt necessary to alleviate the nagging concern of losing something that clearly meant so much to her.

But, we all know that hindsight is 20/20. I can’t go back and neither can you.

So please know, you’re going to miss this someday.

Whatever you’re going through right now. Whatever your biggest challenge is. The thing that drives you absolutely crazy and frustrates you to your core.

You’re going to miss it someday.

I can almost guarantee it.

Follow this author’s journey at

Photo credit: lenalir/Getty Images

Originally published: July 2, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home