This photo of my mother was taken on Mother’s Day two years ago during a visit in Kansas with my parents. It’s one of my recent favorite personal photographs of my Mom, who at the time, was 88.
It has become more difficult to get good photos of my Mom in the past two years. My Mom, you see, suffers from dementia. While she still seems to know who I am whenever I visit (or at least she seems to know that I’m someone she should know), it’s harder to get her to focus when I photograph her. Although she smiles, she is easily distracted and sometimes doesn’t understand what I mean when I say “Smile.” Such a simple request for most of us can be a source of perplexity to her. I cherish the few moments when she does have a glimmer of recognition or understanding and I am pained by the times that she doesn’t. But it is the way of her life now and, unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to reverse or correct it.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease still mystify medical researchers although tiny advances are being made to unravel the causes and unlock the differences between the various forms of dementia. It can’t come too soon for all the individuals and families who live and struggle with this debilitating condition on a daily basis.
While May 12 is designated as Mother’s Day this year, for my Mom and me every day is Mother’s Day because she doesn’t remember and I’ll never forget.