My Mother's Suspice: An Alzheimer's Story
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first half of "My Mother's Suscipe: An Alzheimer's Story"My mother, Rosemary Mulligan McCann, was a brilliant woman, and it was particularly hard for us to watch as Alzheimer's seeped her brilliance from her.When St. Ignatius encourages us to be detached or indifferent to an outcome or a decision, he knows detachment leads to a freedom which will bring us closer to God. When I think of that kind of freeing detachment, I often think of my mother's last years.Over those difficult nine years, she did not complain. At first she could no longer drive a car; later she could not pick out what clothes were put on her in the mornings. Losing those abilities was not her choice, but she was not bitter about her losses.For all that she had to give up, she was gracious, introducing us proudly as her daughters, often several times during the same meal. After a while, she introduced us warmly as her beloved sisters.She joined the choir at her care center because she loved to sing, but after some months she had to quit because she was unable to learn new songs.The burden of this terrible disease was to live each day not always comprehending where she was. "Is this my room?" she would ask over and over. "Whose room is this?" she wondered, looking around.It was not her choice: she was forced to practice detachment every day, letting go of her awareness of the world around her. Her fascination with politics and her love of entertaining were gone. Her five children watched as she relinquished her family roles as grandmother, because she no longer remembered who our children were; then her role as mother when she no longer remembered us.She gave up talking with her oldest friends, unable to carry on a conversation or use the phone.