As Alzheimer’s disease slowly deconstructed the mind of Denise Gedlund’s mother, she forgot her family – everyone but Denise.
Denise was her mother’s youngest child, and that may have been why.
“I come from a large family of two boys and three girls, of which I am the baby,” she said. “All my sibs grew up almost a generation before me and I was like an only child.”
Denise’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005 and died in February 2008.
“Much of the upsetting details of her last few months in life were kept from me by the family, for which I am grateful,” she said. “I was very, very close with my mother. The past three years were very difficult for the family.”
During the last few times Denise saw her mother, she didn’t know Denise’s name, but knew who she was.
“She knew that I was her baby girl,” Denise said. “In fact, for a long time I was the only person she recognized.”
As Denise and her siblings watched their mother fade from life, they sometimes saw flashes of her old self.
“To the last my mother had a great and wicked sense of humor,” Denise said. “Even two days before her death she was teasing the nurses to bring her booze with her ice water.”
Denise’s mother died at 6 a.m. Feb 1.
“I am still having difficulty,” Denise said.
But Denise soon found her mother isn’t really gone because she comes to visit.
“About a week after her passing I was lying in bed reading when I heard footsteps come into the room and felt a heavy weight sit on the end of the bed,” she said. “I thought it was my boyfriend but when I looked he was not there, but I did see a definite butt print on the sheets.”
However, she wasn’t afraid because she knew who had visited her. After several similar visitations, Denise began calling out, “Mom’s here.”
“But the most stunning event occurred a couple of months ago,” Denise said. “Years ago she had given me a special fluorite crystal pendant and for the past couple of years it had been missing. Turning the house topsy-turvy several times never produced the gem. I was distraught as my mom had had a special purpose in mind when she gave me the gem.”
One night Denise’s mother visited her in a dream. Denise told her mother she was upset that she couldn’t find the pendant and her mother promised to find it.
“When I got up the next morning and went into the kitchen for coffee, I spied something on the floor that hadn’t been there the night before,” Denise said. “It was my fluorite pendant.”
Denise called out to her boyfriend who was also surprised because he hadn’t seen the pendant there earlier.
“There was no other explanation for the sudden appearance of the stone other than Mother really did find the stone for me as promised,” Denise said. “I began to cry and said out loud, ‘Thanks Mom.’ I gazed up at her photo on the wall and I swear she winked at me.”
Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt
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