It's Sunday morning, and once again I'm experiencing the miracle of the Resurrection. The otherworldly aura surrounding my mother as she lifts her hands in praise and worship radiates from a world where there's no such thing as Alzheimer's. Where laughter, love, and hope are the language of the heart, portrayed not in spoken words but in the glow of eyes on fire with the sure knowledge of heaven.
It begins the minute I walk through my parents' front door each week to find her seated, as usual, dozing on the sofa. I startle her with my kiss.
"Oh! Hi, honey," she says. "What are you doing out on such a cold day?" (Unlike myself—more-than-warm-enough these days—she's usually chilly.)
"Hi, Mom. It's not cold out. It's a beautiful day. I came to get you ready for church." I hug her then, scratching her back, before settling into my roles as fashion designer, make-up artist, and hairdresser. It isn't long before she asks the question: "Donna, is my mom dead?"
I've heard the stories many times in my life, of soldiers, mortally wounded on the battlefield, crying out for Mama with their final breath. And I ask myself, What is it about the relationship between children and mothers that causes us to intuitively call for them in times of our most profound need? Though the physical connection to our moms is cut at birth, I believe the spiritual umbilical cord is never severed.
Nowhere has that truth been more evident to me than while standing helplessly in the wings, watching my mother struggle in the clutches of the dreaded "A" word.1