Sunday, May 11, 2008

Memories for My Mother


At an age where only memories could uplift her spirits, my mother was denied this one final chance at relief. She was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and passed away on December 2, 2005.

The ailment began to manifest itself in 1992, a few months after my father's death. The images she nurtured in her mind all seemed to blur as`the stages progressed. Relatives theorized that her will to continue waned when the only man she loved passed `away. My concerns then were not on theories but on the fact that my mother was losing us, the children and grandchildren she had cared for and dedicated her life to - not in the physical sense, but in the meaning of all she had endured for us all - to see us successfully through. It is those memories of the efforts she exerted, whether we showed appreciation for these or thoughtlessly took for granted, that would provide the most meaningful reason for her existence. Yet these were continuously eaten away by an irreversible malaise that championed her plight into oblivion. She was almost unknown to herself.

She died without recognizing any of us, nor her grandchildren, even at very close range. On several occasions, she would ask who we were , forgetting our response to the same query a few seconds ago. It often reminded me of a period in 1973, when even at a far distance, she recognized me and I could instantly feel her longing to hug me; despite being barred by soldiers and a wired fence, looking so gaunt, bruised, unclean and unrecognizable from loss of weight and psychological pain. I could feel the hurt etched in her eyes and see the tears welling her face, and I began to recognize the agony she went through, the pain of not knowing for several months whether I was alive or dead. The only positive factor the ailment brought was that she lost the painful events that transpired in the course of her struggle, to direct our lives the best way she knew how. It is a most bitter irony for her to be denied the joy of remembering that we all made it, in spite of ourselves and the depth of our youthful flaws. She lived in us but we faded in her. In a lot of instances, we were the closest strangers in her world, a world that increasingly became strange to her.

My mother was a natural soprano and she could liven up an evening with songs. She also delighted in seeing us perform and dance to the music of our generation, and adapted to singing and memorizing the lyrics of the 60's and 70's genre of artists and songs. In 2001, I bought her a karaoke machine and programmed it with songs she used to sing. What was uncanny was that she would start talking about events as a song was played. It gave proof that the songs which were such a part of her life allowed the flow of memories which were attached to it. Thus began my nightly concerts with my mother. We`were later joined by my kids and her other grandchildren. But the songs she chose to sing moved from the 60's to the 40's, until she could no longer sing any of those we programmed into the unit. Her disease was progressing fast.

On that final night, we tucked her to bed as she hummed an old folk song in her native dialect which we never heard of. She died in her sleep. But I was grateful for what memories returned when she played the karaoke unit. I was happy that even in fleeting moments, she was able to savor the mirth of the union with her family under the pleasant atmosphere of peaceful existence and carefree celebrations. I was extremely thankful that even in those rarest of times and tiniest of instances, she was my mother, and I her son.

My only lament was that I was unable to add more to her fondest memories when she was still in a position to remember. I am however assuaged by the fact that in some magical way, I was able to bring memories for my mother.

As always, Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

19 comments:

Tapline said...

Brad, Outstanding tribute to your mother, someone, your love for seeps into your writing. God Bless and stay well..

Kim said...

hello Durano ...
I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I read your beautiful tribute to your Mother..
I believe she is in heaven and always with you in spirit ..like my dear Dad...

Alzheimers is such a dreadful disease...my Father's Sister passed away last year and I believe that the grief of losing her two brothers before her (she was the eldest)...did not help....as well as losing her own Mother to the disease ...
I'm so glad that you have the happy memories of your singing get togethers...
and that you are able to express your feelings about your loss..

a very moving post...
enjoy your day with your wife and family :)

Digital Polaroids said...

Durano, it's the first time I don't thank you for your so-well-known-as-super-funny words.
I have no words.
This blogging thing is very weird sometimes, and makes you think you have friends, who even let you get in their lives.
Durano darling.... I wish someday I could have a son like you.
Big hug

SheR. said...

I'm sure your mother knew even on the day she passed away how much you love her.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline,

Thanks for the kind words.

I believe it's inevitable Tap, that when you write about someone you love, it does flow out into the words you put in print.

We used to greet her on Mother's Day every year, until it came to a point when she understood it to be her Birthday.

Thanks for the visit. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Thanks for sharing what you felt about the post. I had all the intention of writing a matter-of-fact post, but I guess it did not come out that way.

I was welling up a bit as I recalled these events, and as I was encoding it. I know that some mothers could probably identify with my Mom and their own relationships with their children, specially sons. I believe too that sometimes, she looks out for all of us.

Those concerts were really happy ones which we all enjoyed. It was terrible for the kids too not to be recognized by their grandmother whom they respected, loved and thought highly of. Alzheimer's disease can be a cruel ailment, and I'd hate to see anyone go through it.

I have developed the freedom to express my feelings about most everything, but in a calm and composed kind of way. It's the only way to truly communicate and relate; as well as to have empathy for others. Acknowledging, accepting, and expressing feelings is a less stressful method that avoids the bursting of bottled up emotions which hide one's true character and genuine nature. It also expands the capacity for patience and tolerance. I learned all these in 1970's.:-)

I'm sorry for the many victims of this dreadful disease in your family, and I'm sure your Dad is watching out for you too.

Thanks for your concern. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

It was a prolonged condition that lasted 13 years. But I'd like to believe that the spirit overrides the limitations of the physical body - in this case the affliction of the brain - and she saw and knew how much we all loved her.

Thanks for the kind wish Sher. Take care always. :-)--Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Digital Polaroids,

I didn't mean to render anyone speechless by the post, but I know what you mean. After receiving funny comments, you develop a certain image of the person, and all of a sudden you find them posting something emotional.:-)

I don't usually do personal posts. I write commentaries about events that shape the spirit of the times.

But when I do encounter sad and personal posts written by those I consider my friends, I write comments that I believe could help and provide support, not funny lines or jokes that could trivialize their feelings. That is, to me, being a friend and doing the most of what friends can possibly do under the circumstances.

If this post made you feel that you got into my life through some of the experiences I shared,it only means that you consider me a friend, and I thank you for that.I consider you a friend too. :-)

And don't worry about having a son like me, think of having a son better than me. You will have him for as long as you teach him the good values and respect for himself and others. Also, to be open about his feelings to enable him to express these clearly and calmly and resolutely.

Thanks for the hug. Big hug to you too, and I hope you succeed in forgetting what you need to forget. :-) --Durano, done!

Onequartlow.com said...

As heartfelt and poignant a rendering as any I have had the privilege of reading. Thank-you for sharing and God Bless my friend.

Tommy

Pinay Jade said...

Hey Brad,

Your mother is beautiful!This is such a beautiful tribute to your mother.

I am sure your mother felt your love deep down inside...

That's why I think we should cherish every moment we have with our love ones.We will never know what can happen in the future.

Hugs all the way from Singapore!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tommy,

Thanks for the comment and kind words. I could not help writing about her, it being Mother's Day. But it's not only about Mother's day, it's because I really miss her and feel I should have done more for her.

There are other stories. Maybe next year it will be a happy anecdote.:-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Pinay Jade,

Thanks for the nice and kind words. My Mom was a looker during her younger days and she looked even gentler despite the ailment.

You're right about cherishing every moment with our loved ones, at least to be conscious that even if we move on, they'd have enough love from us to last a lifetime.

Hugs to you too. Thanks. :-)--Durano, done!

Philippine Updates said...

That was very nice Durano!

My mom's still around but my dad isn't anymore. Your post reminded me of a similar post that I did for him in my first blog. It was something I edited over and over again, trying to say a lot within a limited space. Oh, it's always not enough. Good people are taken away early. That's probably why our politicians are still very much around.

SheR. said...

Ah.. Durano I can understand how you feel. My Father-in-law to be is suffering from Parkinson's and it's so sad to watch someone so kind and wonderful fade away over the years..

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi JC,

"Good people are taken away early. That's probably why our politicians are still very much around".

Yes, that's hilarious. I can't agree with you more.

Thanks for the compliment JC, and thanks for dropping by. Tell me, can politicians ever find it in themselves to be selfless? I don't think the world will ever experience this event. Besides, if that happens, who is there to bash eh? :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

You are such a compassionate person. I somehow knew when I saw your photo for the first time that you were someone who had kindness written all over.

Thanks. I guess we can get over the mourning but we will always have to come to terms with missing those we love. We can move on but there are heartbeats reserved for those who have a tremendous impact on our lives.

I know what you mean about your future father in law. Help to care for him as much as your life can allow. You are part of their family already and I hope they consider you one of their best members, which I have no doubt you are. Take care. :-) --Durano, done!

The Fitness Diva said...

She was a beautiful lady, Durano!
That's a lovely pic of her.
That karaoke machine you gave her must have delighted her more than you'll ever know. Music and songs do take you back in time to certain memories and events. It's too bad that this wretched disease robs people of that one last thing they can really treasure. God rest her soul.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

Thank you very much for complimenting my Mom and for wishing her soul well with God. I appreciate it.

This is a terrible disease, one that makes you so unrecognizable and a complete stranger to the one you loved all your life.

Unfortunately, no cure has been found for this degenerative malaise.

I agree that she enjoyed the "concerts" and we enjoyed it with her as well. Thanks for the kind words. :-) --Durano, done!