She got so upset with me for putting up the Christmas tree. She kept insisting that was something she and my dad were supposed to do together. I was just trying to do something nice for my mom and I wanted to keep it simple so my dad didn’t have to worry about taking down a big tree. But the more I did, the more upset my mom got.
“You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be doing that! Me and Jack were supposed to do that together. You have to stop! You’re ruining everything! Stop it right now!”
She always called my dad by his name when she was talking to me because she didn’t know he was my dad. She didn’t even know she was my mom anymore. She kept telling me to stop what I was doing and get out of her house.
I continued to decorate the tree and get done as soon as I could because my mom obviously didn’t want me there. Although it hurt a lot to hear her say things like that, I tried never to take it personally. I knew she didn’t mean it. If my mom could only see what I was doing for her, I knew she would appreciate it and love me for it. She would never yell at me or tell me to get out of her house. She may not have known what I was doing for her, but I knew.
My mom deserved to have someone decorate her house for Christmas. She deserved to have someone put up a little Christmas tree and buy her a special Elvis ornament. She deserved to be loved as much as she had always loved us. She had always made our Christmases so magical and she deserved that in return. Even if she couldn’t see it or appreciate it. I knew she would look up one day to see the pretty lights on the tree and it would make her smile. That was enough for me. That was all I cared about.
(This is an excerpt from my new book “When Only Love Remains: Surviving My Mom’s Battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.” It will be available on Amazon July 11th!)