Friday, March 29, 2013

"Good Night My Love"

I was feeling guilty that Douglass & I couldn't get back in time for our nightly visit with Mama. When she had the nurse call me (for the 2nd time) on my cell phone, I reminded her that we wouldn't be back in time to visit. Her tone became lighter & she started to sing me a song from one of her favorite performers, Shirley Temple.

Goodnight my love, Your Mommy is kneeling beside you, Goodnight my Love, To dreamland the Sandman will guide you. Come now you sleepy head, Close your eyes go to bed. My precious sleepyhead, You mustn't play peek-a-boo..” (this went on for awhile - how does she remember these words?)

I listened as she finished the song & said thank you, Mama. I told her that it was a very nice rendition of the song. I love you & sorry we can’t be there tonight, but we’ll see you tomorrow. Thank you for being my best friend & making me smile (I was having a stressful night & she sensed it). I love you.

She said thank you. I love you too, my son.

I said goodnight Mama.

She said goodnight & repeated "you're going to see me tomorrow, right?"

I said of course Mama! Then I started to sing "Goodnight My Love" as tears welled up.

I knew that Mama was getting weaker & I wasn't sure how many more songs she had left in her. But she still was able to cheer me up & bring a smile to my face. I guess mothers always know what to do. 

If you receive the blog through email you may be unable to view the video, so here's the YouTube link:

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                     Dementia-Mama-Drama Shop

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Memories of Mama Meeting Minnelli - Happy Birthday LIZA!

There are certain things in your life that you never forget. The first time Mama met Liza Minnelli was one of them. Meeting Liza epitomized the NYC experience that we miss. It was a chance meeting on the street, no anticipation, just a typical day in NYC!
My husband & I were walking on Hudson Street in the West Village to visit Mama at the Village Nursing Home. As we were walking past a restaurant this animated woman caught the corner of my eye & I slowed down. Could it be? No way? Is it? OMG, it is!!! I said to my husband, there's Liza Minnelli! Slow down, stop & listen to me. He continued to walk & looked at me like I was nuts! I glared directly into his eyes & told him to go back to our apartment quickly, get the camera, a red marker & the Liza "Gently" CD. I must've looked possessed, because he quickly followed my instructions. I continued to "casually" walk across 12th Street to get Mama sitting on a bench outside the nursing home. I told her she had to get up quickly & walk to the corner so that she could meet Liza Minnelli. Well, I never saw Mama walk so fast with her walker! The three of us strolled by the restaurant & realized that Liza was now standing directly in front of us on the street smoking a cigarette. WTF? Liza is in our way & she's smoking a cigarette! Vin with a Z is taking Anna with a Z to meet Liza with a Z. We are Z'd to the max!

Lightly tapping her on her shoulder, I introduced us to the one & only Liza. She was gracious, she was cordial, she signed the CD, she smiled & posed for a few pictures with us & she hugged us all. Liza kept talking & talking almost as if we had known her for years, just like you may expect Liza to do. She even called me "Daddy", since my name is Vincent, like her father, Vincente Minnelli (who also suffered from Alzheimer's). She made our day, but more importantly she made Mama's day! It was such a memorable meeting, even for Mama with Dementia... she never forgot that day. She kept the photo taken of the four of us by her bedside in the nursing home. I reminded Liza of the incident when running into her a few years later & she was very touched by it.

Enjoy the one & only inimitable "Anna with a Z" aka "Dementia Mama Drama". Below is her video wishing Liza a Happy Birthday.If you receive the blog through email you may be unable to view it, so here's the YouTube link:

Meeting Liza was an unforgettable experience. It meant a lot to Mama & I am eternally grateful to Liza for being so giving to Mama during a chance meeting on a NYC street. Mama remembered the incident often & fondly, so Happy Birthday LIZA! May you continue to bring joy & share your love even with "strangers on the street". You are one talented, generous Dame... so enjoy your birthday & know how much you are loved!

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Over the Rainbow

How many times can you say good bye to a loved one? The answer for me was many times & it didn't get any easier. Sure some days I would say "Mama if you wanna die, then just die... it's okay." But then other days I'd repeat the things that "should" be said to help her ease on down the yellow brick road & go over the rainbow.

Mama & I said our goodbyes many times. 
We strolled down memory lane so many times that it needs repaving. We talked about going to the light so often, that we needed a new lightbulb. We went thru the entire list of people she missed, & it's a long one (after all, she did come from a family of thirteen.) I reassured her that she would see them again & would be at peace. I repeatedly said to her that she didn't have to worry about me & it's okay to let go. "Let go, go towards the light." It seems so cliché, but no one ever said it doesn't work!

But was I ready to "let go?" Her final curtain forces me to face my mortality & question who is going to be my advocate in the end? In the past, I knew I'd survive anything because my job was to take care of Mama, so I HAD to survive. What happens to me now? I've become sad, scared & vulnerable.

Since moving to Suburbia, Mama became my only true friend. I feel odd saying that, but it's the truth! We continued saying our goodbyes & helped Mama with her transition "somewhere over the rainbow", where her "happy days are here again." Now I take it day by day & will make the most of our memories. Unlike Mama, I can recall most of them & will continue to share them with you on our blog. The difficult part for me now will be my transition of life without Mama. 

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