I heard the voice of Alzheimer's disease every time I telephoned my mother, 1,800 miles away. “How is everybody?" she asked. Every few minutes she repeated the question. I gave the same answer. "Everyone is fine." Mom always replied, "Good." Her concern for the welfare of others remained strong while Alzheimer's took its toll on her memory.
We spoke by phone on a weekly basis for around two years. Then, Alzheimer's robbed Mom’s ability to speak coherently. She verbalized unintelligible words. Mom often giggled as she spoke. I laughed along as if I understood every word. I asked myself at the end of each phone call, "How can I communicate this way with Mom?"
I turned to God for answers. I experienced a moment of truth. My mother's life is comprised of two parts: body and soul. Her body was losing its battle against Alzheimer's. Her soul is eternal. I telephoned Mom with a new perspective: Speak to her spirit.
The conversation began with Mom speaking “word salad.” I replied, “Mom, isn’t it wonderful that God loves us?” In a strong, coherent voice Mom responded, “Yes, it is.” I knew that Mom's spirit spoke to me through the fog of Alzheimer's. The fog lifted for only a moment but I was changed forever. I excitedly shared my news with my sisters. They experienced the same moments of clarity during their subsequent visits with Mom. We felt blessed in those final days before Alzheimer's stole Mom's voice.
Our family gathered around Mom’s bedside the week before her death. We took turns saying our goodbyes as Mom slept. We sang the hymn titled, “It Is Well With My Soul.” Mom awoke and looked at each person in the room. Her eyes closed with sleep. Without words, Mom told us it was well with her soul.
I Walk to End Alzheimer's because I remember Mom.
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