SO WHY IS A NAME SO IMPORTANT ANYWAYS?
When people ask me the question “Does your Mother know who you are?” what they are really asking, is does my Mother recognize it is me, Lori, her daughter. Some are asking to get an update on how she is doing, others to give me permission not to have to go see her. No matter what their reason, my answer has never varied. I always say, “When did a name become so important to us?”
Second, I tell people, “I don’t test that theory anymore. Why would I? I have a 50/50 chance at best my Mother will get my name right. Why would I take a chance of her being wrong and wrecking her day and mine? What is important to me is that my Mother feels safe and comfortable with me, and on a very good day, we can laugh together. My focus is to keep her comfortable and calm, and by doing that she likes being with me. It does not get better than that! It is about quality time together.”
Now, I want to share with you a story about being recognized, and acknowledged by my Mother.
For a long time my Mother would introduce me to her new friends at the Nursing Home as “Her Mother.” She would go on to say what good care I take of her. At first, I was taken back, but just said to her friends “Hello,” shook their hands and said, “and please, just call me Lori.”
Most of Mom’s friends at the nursing home went with the flow, if they noticed or not; there was no way I could be Mom’s Mother; but one woman did notice, and she was not going to let it slide. She would correct my Mother ever time yelling, “Dorothy, that’s not your Mother! It’s your Daughter!”
My Mom would look at me. I would smile back at her; and she would turn back to her friend and say, “Well, what do you expect? You know I have Alzheimer’s.” Everyone would laugh, except the woman who tried to “fix” my Mom.
My old brother, Mark, asked, “Doesn’t it bother you that Mom doesn’t know you anymore?”
I told him, “No not at all. In fact I see it as an honor to be called her Mother.”
Mark looked at me funny and said, “What do you mean?”
I would remind him that Mom did not have a good relationship with her Mother growing up, and I felt it an honor that she has healed that relationship through me some how. She now was proud of her relationship with her Mother. How cool is that!
Mark, still has a difficult time seeing the “honor” in being called someone else. He gets frustrated when our Mother calls him “Chuck,” her brother. I have tried to explain to him Mom is back in time. We probably do not exist in her mind. She is in a time before we were born. I have told Mark that he looks like Uncle Chuck when he was younger. That Mom loved her brother, but his ego is crushed thinking it is about him; and it is not. It is about circumstances, conditions, and Mom’s perceptions. It is just that simple. People with Alzheimer’s disease do not call us the wrong name to make us mad. I don’t believe, their mind could even grasp that concept.
You know I really did not fully understand the meaning of “Being in the Now,” which is all the talk with Eckhart Tolle, and Oprah, until my Mother’s disease progressed. Living in the now, has allowed my daughter and I to have such a wonderful time visiting with her. It does not make any difference where she is in time or place in her mind, or if she knows us by name. We just play in whatever world she is spinning in. If Grandma, wants to talk about pink Cadillac’s, with spinners for wheels, and sound systems; what is the harm? She is happy. It is innocent and fun. It is a nice break from the “real world” sometimes.