Reflections on the last days of my Mother who died from Alzheimer's disease in 1993.
|Today is my favorite girl's birthday. This woman was and probably is in some way my BFF (best friend forever). She gave me life. She taught me values. This woman helped me to explore the world through books when we were so dirt poor we had to use cardboard in our shoes. Florence Henrietta Brown Williams is totally responsible for who I am today.
Today my girlfriend would be celebrating her 103rd birthday, and if she was here, right now, I would be worried sick about her and any potential exposure to the coronavirus. She would not know what to think of all of this, but she would know that her God was in charge.
One of my best memories of my Mother was during her last days in Carroll Manor Nursing Home where the nurses recorded her singing walking down the halls. Mother ended up there after tying herself to a chair in the middle of the night and forgetting that she had done so, and then attempting to get up for whatever reason, and falling and breaking all of her ribs.
Having heard the crash, I rushed to the living room and there she laid amongst all of my ceramic elephants, just moaning with no mind to get up or what had happened. She was helpless, and I knew that her lifestyle had gone forever. The ambulance came and took her to Leland's Hospital where she remained until they transported her to Carroll Mand where she died on November 29, 1993.
She wrote her final life's chapter there, and that is what I am remembering this morning. Mother could not remember me, my name, or my relationship to her, but every nurse, doctor, and patient in Carroll Manor knew who she was. She was known as the singing and praying woman. When I would come to visit Mother, they would way "What a blessing to have your Mother here with us" or "Girl you have the prayingness Mother in the world." I also heard them talk with her about their personal lives and the answers that she gave them. I was astounded and so were they because a few minutes later, she would not know her name, where she was or how she got there.
But, the memory I hold onto is the one with her sitting in the dining room and everyone around her teaching them the meaning of the 23rd Psalm. She had their attention. Every eye was on her, even the attendants were sitting there listening to her. It was amazing to hear and watch this woman in full-blown Alzheimers teaching others about her God. Her words were fluid. Her eyes sharp as a tack, quoting scriptures from throughout the Bible to support what she was telling them, and her voice was oh so gentle, but firm. I watched until she was finished, and her mind stopped, and that look of being totally lost replaced the previous glow, and then I cried. I could not understand how she could remember her Bible verse for verse and chapter for chapter, but she could not remember me, my children, or any of her grandchildren. I hurt so badly inside but also felt so attached to her and so proud of her all at the same time. With the deepest pride, one could feel, I just thought that is my Mother, as people walked up to tell me how much she meant to them in Carroll Manor Nursing home!
Florence Henrietta Brown Williams, Happy Birthday, and my only wish today is that you were here with me. Know that on another level, I am thankful that you are at rest and that the dreaded disease of Alzheimer's can no longer steal your beautiful mind -- a mind that loved God, people, poetry, music, history, nature, travel, and the environment.
Happy birthday, and know that my present to you will always be me trying to live a life of which you would be proud. You are the epitome of "A Mother's Love." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-Z9sXqr44s