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Remembering My Two Moms -- Before and After Alzheimer's

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Yesterday, I was at my parents’ house visiting my dad and I went upstairs to get something.

Before I started back down the stairs, something made me pause and think about how my sister and I used to sit at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning, squealing with excitement, until my mom said it was OK for us to come down.

I pictured this in my head as I began to walk down the stairs. When I reached the bottom, I looked to the right where the living room is and pictured my mom lying there in a hospital bed, dying. I thought about how she laid in that bed for almost three months. I thought about how she died in that room.

Then I turned to the left and looked down the hallway to the family room, again picturing my mom on all those Christmas mornings, making sure everything was just right before she told us we could come downstairs.

I looked back to the living room where she died and then back to the family room again where she was full of life.

My two moms.

One sick. One well.

One full of life. One losing every bit of it.

One young and vibrant. One still relatively young, but confused and weak.

My second mom is so fresh in my mind. She’s the one I always picture when I think of my mom. But once in a while, my first mom comes back and I remember who she used to be — who she was before Alzheimer’s changed her so drastically.

Whenever I see a picture of my first mom, I am somewhat surprised to see her. I forget what she looked like back then. I forget how beautiful she was.

The memory of the mom I had for the first 25 years of my life has been largely replaced with the memory of the mom I had for the past 10. Since my mom died, I have been missing my first mom more than ever.

As I walk through my parents’ house, memories of both moms pop into my head almost interchangeably. Sometimes I can picture them both in the same room, but the memory of my second mom is much clearer. I have been told the memory of my first mom will return with time and I hope that’s true for me.

But either way, I am so grateful for both versions of my mom and all they have taught me. I am grateful for her beauty, her strength, and her heart. I am grateful for her love.

No matter which mom I picture when I close my eyes, the memory of her love is always there. And I can feel it every single day.

Originally published: November 27, 2020
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