Despite Alzheimer’s, My Mom Never Lost Sight of Motherhood

Ray Burow avatar

by Ray Burow |

Share this article:

Share article via email

Ray's mother with her grandchildren. (Courtesy of Ray Burow)

I recently discovered this article celebrating Mother’s Day and found it to be an enjoyable read because it rings true for me.

Honest Abe earned his nickname

All of us tend to be sentimental about our moms. Inspired by wonderful mothers, many of us could write 100 quotes of our own lauding the incredible women who raised us. The article includes a quote from our 16th president. Perhaps you can identify with the words of Abraham Lincoln: “All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

It’s a beautiful quote, but Lincoln’s mother had nothing on mine, who was an angel and close to a saint. Toward the end of her life, my mom required familial care due to the onset of dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s disease. Even as the disease ravaged her brain, my mother remained her sweet self and, by God’s grace, never lost sight of motherhood. She forgot many things but held on to being a mom.

The randomness of the disease

The disease was so heinous that sometimes Mom didn’t recognize herself in a mirror. How is it possible that she didn’t know her own reflection, but never failed to identify me as her child? She forgot names and sometimes confused me with my sister, but she remained confident in her familial relationships.

Mom was a nurturer

She would ask, “Are you warm enough? Are you hungry? Do you need money?”

Occasionally when one of us had to work late, Mom would insist on waiting up until we returned home. I’d walk into a quiet house to find her sitting in the living room waiting for me in the dark. She’d give me a start.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Why are you still up?”

“Oh, I am just waiting to see that you got home.” And she’d smile.

It never occurred to Mom that dementia left her ill-equipped to do anything on our behalf if we failed to appear by a certain hour. She was simply being the mom she’d always been. Her brain held on to specific things, but what it kept was random.

We couldn’t understand how Mom remembered that one of her children was out late at night. We’ll never know how. Perhaps it was a mother’s special sense.

Who’s watching whom?

One day, Mom caught wind that her eldest grandchild was unwell. Her granddaughter did have a cold, and while lying on the couch, Mom was on “granny duty,” keeping watch over her granddaughter while I went to the pharmacy.

However, Mom was under the impression that she was babysitting. She placed her hand on the teenager’s forehead to detect a fever. “Are you feeling better?” she asked. “You want me to get you anything?”

A mother’s prayer

During the early days following her diagnosis, my mother told me that there were a few particular things she didn’t want to forget: her name, that Jesus loved her, and her children. Perhaps our experience was an answer to a mother’s prayer. She continued to pray to Jesus, and she never forgot her name or her children.

Her children will always remember her, too.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s Disease.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.