I met her shortly after becoming acquainted with my best friend. It was his mother, Lillian. She was a vibrant woman in her eighties who loved doing crossword puzzles, baking, and enjoyed a good laugh.
Every Christmas Eve I would have her and my best friend over for a small meal. I would sit and visit with them. One time my best friend was looking through some pictures of Lillian and myself when he noticed that in every picture his mother had a smile and others you could tell she was laughing.
I am not sure when things really began to change, but, I feel it was when she started losing her sight because of macular degeneration. She no longer could do her crosswords, bake, or even watch her favorite soap opera.
The time soon came that Lillian could no longer live on her own. The family had to place her in a long term care home. She really didn’t like it, of course I feel most don’t, but there were signs that something more was happening in Lilliam. She didn’t have the zip in her talk and she was having trouble recognizing people. I wasn’t long when she did not know her son, but, when I would go to see her, I would say, “hi mum”, she knew who I was.
There were days when after visiting Lillian that my best friend would come over and cry. His mother in her good days would never use expletives, but the Lillian in the care home would curse at the nurses, at her son. One time she bit a nurse who was trying to help her.
Dementia is a mental illness that many have never had to experience with, especially with someone they love. It seems that hollywood has no qualms about making fun of it, there is nothing funny about the disease. It slowly robs a person’s ability to be themselves, in their place it leaves a person hardly recognizable.
So dear reader, I hope that I am alive when they find an answer that can bring about some type of a cure for the mental illness.