Remember to care for the carers.
One of the symptoms of Alzheimers/Dementia can be denial, it is also a defence mechanism.
Mum didn't know what Motor Neurone Disease (MND) was. Dad waited till after she died to find out.
I tried to inform all of their friends that she was dying. Explaining what MND was wasn't as easy. They just told everyone she had bad knees.
Every Monday my parents had lunch at an Italian pension club. In her final months Mum couldn't walk far without assistance, so each week we arrived a bit earlier to park near the front door.
Once inside, her dignity and strength kicked in and she'd march across the room to her table. I walked beside her offering balance with a discreet touch.
When I tried to pack her walking frame or wheelchair into the car she would protest and refuse to use it. It was easier not to bother.
The final lunch for the year she had no choice. The only strength left in her legs was her pride, and I couldn't keep my promise of never letting her fall, if she didn't do it my way. It was either stay at home or use the walking frame.
We got there two and half hours early so no-one would see her arrive. Her walking frame had wheels and a seat so I wheeled her across the hall. When she spotted a few of the old men playing cards she bowed her head and covered her face with her hand. Once seated she made me hide the walker.
By the end of lunch she was exhausted. The room was still packed with 100 or so people. It was time to leave which meant going public with her mobility aid. She tried to deny needing it and wished for invisibility.
Words of support, a few sighs and some gasps escaped from the mouths of people nearby when I began to help her up. The surrounding tables started to say their goodbye's, she got lots of kisses and well wishes.
As I slowly wheeled her across the room people began shouting out season's greetings to her. She smiled and tried to hold her head high.
In the distance someone started clapping. Soon the whole room broke out in cheers, a few sang a traditional farewell song. People started surrounding her and following us out. They knew.
Confused at first, she nodded and waved back. As the cheers got louder and longer she stopped feeling embarrassed, and smiled like a movie star.
I didn't know where to look. I tried to smile and laugh. I turned my face away from her and covered my eyes with my hand. I was just so proud of her... and breaking.
The first lunch for the new year was scheduled for February. I knew she knew, they knew, she wouldn't make it. Yet somehow so many people just didn't believe it.
A lot of the club members couldn't make it to her funeral, and offered their apologies at the first lunch back. I reassured them all there was no need to feel sorry. The farewell they gave her was perfect. It was filled with joy and best of all it happened while she was still alive to enjoy it.
My parents are undeniably private people. I often wondered if I was doing the right thing by telling everyone she was dying.
I did it for her, so her friends could tell her how much they loved her, I also did it for them... and me. Witnessing other peoples love for her bought me so much joy. And If everyone else knew she was dying than I couldn't deny what was happening to her either.
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