When I tell someone my mom has Alzheimer’s, the first thing they usually ask is, “Does she know who you are?”
There was a time when I could confidently answer, “Yes, she does.” People always seemed so relieved to hear that. “Oh, that’s good!”
While it was good that my mom still knew who I was, I wanted to add, “Yeah, but she gets lost in her own house.” Or, “True, but she can’t remember how to put on a shirt.”
As the years went by, that question became harder for me to answer. There were days my mom would look right at me and not know who I was. Or, she would look at a picture of me and not be able to tell me who was in the picture. But, there were also days when she knew exactly who I was.
I would tell people that sometimes she remembered me and sometimes she didn’t. Still, people seemed so relieved to hear that she had not totally forgotten who I was.
While it was good that my mom remembered me at times, I wanted to add, “Yeah, but she can’t use the bathroom by herself.” Or, “True, but she has no idea how to get into a car.”
As even more time went by, I had no choice but to tell people that no, my mom didn’t know who I was. They responded with sympathy and sorrow, many times with actual tears. It broke their hearts to hear this and it broke mine to know there were far worse things than my mom not knowing who I was.
While it was sad that my mom didn’t know who I was, I wanted to add, “Yeah, but she can no longer do anything for herself.“ Or, “True, but she can no longer walk and she just sits in a wheelchair with her eyes closed most of the time.”
There are far worse things about this disease than my mom not knowing who I am. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore.
She is basically just sitting around, waiting to die. Sounds extremely harsh, but it is extremely harsh. This disease is extremely harsh.
If I had one wish to wish for one thing for my mom to have back, it wouldn’t be for her to remember who I am. That would be the last thing I’d wish for. She deserves so much more.
Now when people ask me if my mom knows who I am, I have a different answer. One that took me many years to learn.
I tell them, “No, my mom doesn’t know who I am, but she knows ME. She knows my heart and my soul and my love for her. She knows my voice and my presence. She doesn’t know I’m her daughter, Lauren, but she knows that she knows me. She knows I love her and she loves me. She knows she’s safe with me. She knows me on another level. Our bond is unbreakable and undeniable. What we have is so much more important than her knowing my name.”
There are far worse things about Alzheimer’s than my mom not knowing who I am, but there are also far better things.
She knows me.
In a way that no one else does.
8 thoughts on “My Mom Knows Me”
This one made me cry! Many people ask me if my mom knows me and I know they feel sad when I say that he goes “in and out” with knowing me. I know she knows I’m someone who loves her and is there for her. Your words rang so true in my heart. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much! I’m glad it resonated with you!
My response is that she has muscle memory; so, when I hold her hand or stroke her, or speak to her or sing to her,,she knows me!
I love that!
Thank you Lauren for sharing this painful reminder but a most touching & important reminder for all caregivers to understand. I sit here with my mom, she is in her last stage of her life. Today is 6 days telling her she can go in peace but clings on for some reason. On Aug 30th she turned 91 yrs old & I thought she would make her exit then, but to no avail. Mom’s dementia got so much worse after having a tumor removed from her brain. She knew me & my husband & I guess it was because I have been caring for her for 1 & 1/2 yrs now. All the things you mention though about not knowing how to put her clothes on to not knowing her left foot from her right is all so true. It was a painful reminder how things were progressing. Now I wait in silence to have her take her last breath. Dementia/Alzheimer is such a psychological torment for the caregiver that I hope & pray that modern medicine would find a cure soon. Thank you once again for your post.💟
Thank you so much for reading! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I’m hoping for peace for everyone. My mom turned 71 this year and I think every year is her last, so I know the torment you speak of. Sending love and hugs.
Thank you so much for your article Lauren! I was brought to tears, since It was so well written and true for me, the way you described my exact feelings of when I took care of my Mom with dementia. Mom didn’t acknowledge who I was at the end, but we had a bond that even the dementia couldn’t take away. We still had a closeness, I was the only one who could feed her, Mom would not eat from anyone else, which made me realize how we still had such a strong connection! My Mom passed away on March 5, 2015 in my arms, and there isn’t a day when I don’t miss her. After reading how you felt, it has confirmed my feelings and given me comfort once again, that I was always there for her. Thank you again! My thoughts are with you, Take care xo
Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss. There’s no doubt that we never stop missing our moms. Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading! I really appreciate it!