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Monday, January 17, 2005

Knockin' on heaven's door

I just visited my mom yesterday and I just realized how bad her dementia is getting to be. For those of you who are not yet in the know, she's suffering from alzheimer's disease. I've written several poems about my mther's condition. If you care to have a look at one of them, you'll find one here I know it's dementia as she's seeing people not visible to us, more often now. Yesterday, while I was playing mah jongg with my siblings and a cousin, I overheard my mom softly moaning, crying in despair in her bed. My kuya told me it's just natural for her to be doing that. I stood up to check her out. She said she didn't know what to answer the "lady over there." I asked, "Why? What's her question?" "I don't know. She keeps on asking me questions. Told me she's my mother."

That gave me a scare. No, I don't believe in ghosts. I am not outrightly rejecting the possibility of their existence but I have yet to see one and at this time. (I don't want to be disproved, though hehehe) At any rate, this reminds me of my dying father. He was in my sister's arms inside the cab enroute to the hospital during that fatal first heart attack. He told my siblings that he was seein his mother (my grandmother) and some relatives long gone. Now, I've heard that story quite too often now and not only here in the country but in other cultures as well.

What does this tell me? SEveral things. First, this death experience must be true. It gives me a glimpse of what death is all about. To me, it is a passing on to another dimension. A dimension that we have yet to learn fully about but will never do. If I am to believe there's another dimension out there, then what is it? Heaven? Probably. Isn't it nice to know that there's life after death? I'd like to believe that. Although it won't eradicate my fear of death, it alleviates its existence.

Going back to my mother, she kept on insisting that there's a woman by the door. I told her there's nobody. Then she cried in terror and asked, "what is she then, a ghost?" "No, didn't she tell you who she was?" "YEs, she said she's my mother. I think I'm going to die!""No, you're not! I am here," held her hand and brushed her hair with my other hand. And she was probably soothed as she kept quiet. Then I realized, in spite of my mother's age, she is as clueless as a teen ager when her time will come. I've heard people talking in wakes about how the departed had managed to say goodbye to their loved ones before dying. Maybe we do realize it at the last moment, I don't know.

Looking at my mother, healing bed sores and all, the third thing I realized is that if this is what getting old is, I don't want any part of it. I want to live as long as I am lucid and kicking. But once I become a burden to my family, then, I think it is time to go. God help me, but I hope my dead relatives pick me up immediately. In the meantime, I have a mother to attend to. A mother who will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow. (A birthday that doesn't mean anything to the celebrant.) A mother who embraced me during the times I was afraid. Took me to school, took good care of me. Cooked me wonderful meals, teased, encouraged and most of all, loved me very much. God! I want my old mother back.

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41 Comments:

Blogger joffin said...

dear tito rolly,
this post tugged my heart, really. this is how i feel with my beloved lola. i suppose i am in denial of her condition, we think she may have alzheimer's.
i know it's stupid but i never thought my grandparents would get old and weak.
i too am scared of what old age might bring me. this june i will turn 29 already. young you may say, but i feel my age and adulthood sneaking up on me, i'm just doing my best to ignore it.
i pray for your mother's comfort and well-being. hang on tito rolly. add another little prayer for your mom from me. god bless.

9:12 AM  
Blogger "J" said...

I don't believe in ghost....pero takot ako...

Ghost from my past....Ibang story na yan.

10:49 AM  
Blogger BatJay said...

ang hirap namang basahin ng post mo sir. feel ko kasi ang nararamdaman mo. ang hirap ano? my mom will turn 81 this may. she's still healthy bagay na pinapasalamat ko. pero naroon pa rin ang takot ko na darating rin ang time na mawawala siya. sana di siya mahirapan. alam ko darating rin ang time ko. sana di rin ako mahirapan. ayoko rin maging burden sa mga maiiwan ko. iniisip ko nga kung alam ko na talagang malapit na akong maging gulay, iinom na lang ako ng lason.

i wish your mom well. i hope her condition won't become too painful for you.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Luchie said...

with ur post, i remember my mom she will be turning 82 this 26 Jan.she is still strong when she went here to S'pore last year. I hope she's still the same as I haven't seen her for a year.
i wish your own mother well. i can feel that though your mother is in that condition, she can feel in her heart that she has a son who is a filial one.
God bless!

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tito Rolly,

I feel your pain. Similar things happened in the months before our grandfather left us in 1992. (He would have been 95 now, had he lived.) I hope that somehow your mom's situation improves. She's quite lucky to have a dutiful son like you.

Tin Tin
http://www.stannum.net/

4:20 PM  
Blogger Mec said...

i offer my prayers, sir..

if only to make things go a little more smoothly/peacefully/graciously, for both your Mom and those who love her...

4:56 PM  
Blogger celia kusinera said...

My grandfather had Alzheimer before he died a few years ago. And now my grandmother I believe is at the edge of dementia. So I know how you feel. Your mother is very lucky to have caring children as you and your siblings. May time and circumstance be kind to her.

7:45 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Jof It's always like that. We sometimes deny the fact that our loved ones will get old and will eventually be gone. Ganun lang naman yun. Una-una lang. C'est la vie!

Thanks for the prayer and the well-wishes.

J oo nga, ibang story yung ghost from the past but just like the spiritual ghosts, sometimes, we unknowingly make them up. In tagalog, gumagawa tayo ng sariling multo. How do I deal with the past? I let my past as a learning experience but do not dwell in them.

Batjay Sinabi mo pa! Ang hirap lalo na pag ang pagkakakilala mo sa nanay mo ay someone who has a strong character. I really miss talking to my mom, listening to her words of wisdom, etc... My only consolation is she has not lost her humor. Minsan, nagpapatawa pa rin.

luchie_g Welcome to my site. Enjoy your mother while you can. Although hindi naman pare-pareho ang time na pagdating ng affliction that goes with old age, it is almost inevitable. Of course you know that. You are a guidance counselor, right? Thank you for your concern.

Tin tin Thanks for the wonderful words. I doubt it if my mom's situation will still improve. I've had first hand experience with alzheimer's disease with the Canadian husband of my friend. It's all downhill from here. I have to face reality and accept what life has to offer.

Mec Thanks a lot. My consolation is that my mother doesn't seem to be conscious the way she was before. True, she seems to be in pain but the loss of memory probably works like an anaesthesia.

7:57 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Celia K Sana nga. I just wish she's not that much in pain. Actually, natutulog lang naman siya parati. More than anything else, it's the dignity that seems to have gone with the memory. I guess that is more painful to us than it is to her. Well, hopefully, that is the case. Thanks

8:00 PM  
Blogger santi said...

Tito Rolly,
I can also feel your family's situation. At least you can still hope to take advantage of the slightest sign that your mother can feel and respond the love and care your family can give her.
I also miss my parents back home, sakitin na rin sila marami na ring iniinom na gamot.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Matapoor said...

She will be in my prayers.

Be strong, Rolly!

10:24 PM  
Blogger cathcath said...

titorolly,
my father died at the age of 44. I did not understand then when my mom told me that it was his wish not to
die of old age and become a burden to the family.

What I treasured most were the hours I spent talking with my mom,months before she died of cancer.
I could still hear her laughter whenever I tell funny
stories. She laughed when I berated the nurse who was late in responding to the call light.

She used to call me the "the maton" of the family, her defender, her taray queen. It seemed she wanted to tell the nurse...don't mess up with her...she can eat you alive. Her nurses were Caucasians. They became very
attentive after I talked to the Nursing Director.

I missed my mom too. She was the original taray queen until our role was reversed. Thank you for this article
titorolly. My mom's b-day is on the 21 of January.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Mik said...

My heart goes out to you, Tito Rolly. My grandmother also had dementia and I couldn't bear to visit her, seeing the state she was in. But I still went. It is hard when you see the people who made up your entire world when you were a child falter.
We are their support now.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Dr. Emer said...

I don't think your mother has alzheimer's based on what you related here. In that room, where you were when you related that story, she must've been the most lucid person around.

If you wouldn't mind, and if it wouldn't be too much of a bother on your part, can I go with you on your next visit to your mom? Please. I'd like to see her.

Seeing the souls of dead relatives might not be a good sign taken from our perspective, yes, and I'm not even supposed to believe any of those stuff being a disciple of medicine, but I'd be a liar if I told you that I didn't experience the same with my mom, too.

I hope you approve of my request, Tito Rolly. :)

8:34 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Your post was very poignant and touching. It's so hard to watch someone we love go through something painful whether it is a 'transient' situation or a terminal illness. I remember visiting my lola about 3 years ago. She was bed-ridden, frail, and emaciated. I hardly recognized her. She couldn't speak anymore, had to be fed, changed, etc... It was painful to watch her and even more painful to even imagine what she was going through. So I know how torn you must feel. I hope I never have to go through it myself or make my own loved ones watch me like that... My prayers go out to you and your family.

11:04 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Santi Oo naman. We really take advantage of her lucid moments. Especially that it's during this time na nagpapatawa siya.

Matapoor Thanks a lot!

Cathy you were the maton of the family? I don't believe you. hahaha It's my mom's birthday today but I couldn't call her. I doubt it if she can come to the phone. MAybe later. KAya lang baka lang lalong malito.

1:08 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Mik Oo nga especially now na hindi naman well-off kaming magkakapatid. Mahirap. MAs maganda sana kung kaya naming ibigay ang maibibigay na comfort ng pera no?

Doc Emer nakakahiya naman sa iyo. i know how busy you are. Thanks for the offer. I appreciate it a lot.

KAt Thanks for your comments. Yes, a part of me also dreads what will happen to me during my old age. I hope I never get to be that way. What's the use of living up to old age if you're just like that? Thanks for the prayers.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how much do we know about life except our material awareness of it? perhaps indeed there is life after death. now wouldn't that be good? if none, why do good on earth--para que?

5:28 PM  
Blogger Sassy Lawyer said...

She's still the same person, you know. She may not be able to show and say her love for you right now, but you know the love is there.

Change places lang. You needed her more when you were a child. She needs you more now.

6:31 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Anonymous Should we confine the reason for doing good on the metaphysical plane? Even those who do not believe in heaven believe in some form of retribution. A natural law or karma perhaps... But I agree, the concept of heaven is one good motivation to do good.

Sassy You know what? I think you're right! Yes, it's my turn to take care of my mom but I can't do that full time. I have my own family to feed. At best, what I do is visit her every Sunday, offer financial assistance to my brother and sister who are living with her, etc...

9:37 PM  
Blogger sachiko said...

I want my old mom back..Oh, how I feel your heart..I don't know what to say..I just feel the ache in your heart..


Hello from Sachiko who whose heart is heavy with emotion upon reading your post that she can't say a proper introduction.

10:50 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Sachiko mushi mushi! Domo aregato! Ah but the emotions contained matched with the briefness of your comment makes up the best introduction I can ever need. Welcome to my blog.

11:00 PM  
Blogger JMom said...

Hi Rolly, I know exactly what you are going through. It just breaks my heart to read your post. It is such a hard call, to say how you want to go when the time comes. My stepmother died suddenly, from a stroke last year, without any warning. It was quite sudden, just as she was preparing to retire. While we say it is good that she did not suffer a long illness, and was not a burden to her family, we also miss that we did not get to say goodbye. My mother-in-law on the other hand, died last summer from brain cancer. We were lucky to have been given a few months to say goodbye to her, and show her how much we appreciated her and all that she had done for her family. Towards the end, she too became like your mom, started seeing other people, but for some reason, she always knew that she was the only one able to see them. One time, when I was sitting with her, she said "you don't see him over there, do you?" I turn to the corner she is pointing at and there is no one there. Sometimes she would go into detail about how they looked and what they are wearing. She didn't always know who they were. Were they delusions? We don't know either. The docs said she would be prone to halucinations as the cancer presses on her brain, but I do believe that there is a life after this, and maybe we need help getting there, just as sometimes we need help navigating this life.

Happy Birthday to your mom. Even if she is not aware, your presence (and the rest of her family) in this world alone validates her birth. Take care, Rolly.

12:00 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

JMom If only I can have my way, I'd like to die in my sleep just right after the time I have stopped being lucid or failing health. I don't want to live a hundred years old doing nothing but sleep and being taken care of. Although I don't mind doing it for my mother, I know in my heart I can say this much only because I don't live with her. It gets tiring after a while as I can see from my brother and sister who live with her. Not that they're complaining but it seems they've grown accustomed to the whines and grunts...

6:02 AM  
Blogger watson said...

Tito Rolly! Nakakaiyak naman yung last paragraph mo. In a way, I was shielded from the personal experience of having the death of a loved one. I was very young then when our Ba-i (lola in Pangasinan) died. We attended the wake and her grandchildren even made mano before her coffin was closed and buried, but death was something odd to me then. But it is now a reality. I don't know what is worse: the growing old part, or the dying old part. We'll cross the bridge when we get there. In the meantime, let's love them while they're still here.

7:00 PM  
Blogger pepseeh said...

"But once I become a burden to my family, then, I think it is time to go." -> Sir, this sentence is just as good/can be considered as a request for euthanasia.

The "lady over there" can be either one of two things: 1) a real ghost (check to see if there is a sudden drop of temperature on the area your dear mother is pointing to) 2) or a mere figment of her deteriorating imagination.

It's such a thing to wonder why God will bestow such illnesses to good people such as your mother.

7:19 PM  
Blogger "J" said...

I suddenly remembered my grandpa who's also suffering from Alzheimer. A week before Christmas, he told my gradnma that he'd seen my aunt who passed away a few years back asking him to join her...somewhere.... As far as I can recall, it's the second time around that it happened. Does it mean anything?

8:48 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Watson to answer your question, I think I will have to say both. Growing old in itself is scary, much more dying. But that's life. We have to accept it. Yes, we try to show her how much we love her.

pepseeh You think that's a request for euthanasia? Hmm, I never thought about it that way but maybe when I get to that point, we can say it that way.
So, one of the manifestations of the presence of a ghost is the sudden change of temperature... I'll check the next time. Thanks for dropping by.

J Precisely my point. I've heard of this before but I didn't know what to make of it until my experience with my dying dad and now my mom. My theory of passing on to another dimension is bevoming much stronger...

10:39 AM  
Blogger ajay said...

forgive me tito, ngayon ko lang nabasa ang blog mo. am sad to hear about your mother. Hope she will be better. My mom is 70 already. the only consolation is that our mothers may grow old and withered..but it's an accomplishment in itself being a mother and raising all the kids. i am sure they will get their own rewards in heaven God bless!

10:57 PM  
Blogger BongK said...

Hi Ka Rolly, foremost i pray that your mom will be better... do take care of urself too, not because i am reminding you of your "aging" age but the "illness" you have (as youve said) inherited from your folks. :-)

ang sarap mag bloghop yeheyyy (dito ako now sa library namin and at last na-access ko na ang mga blogs nyo, including mine hehehe)

9:22 AM  
Blogger Cerridwen said...

Tito Rolly...it is hard when you have her and not managed to see how she appreciates all the great things you have done and accomplish...she forgets it in an instant but then again...before she even got there, I am sure she already know what a great man you have become. Any mother will be thankful to raise a son like you, your Mother did a great job. And you are what describes her and say the kind of person she is - a great one.

She may not be able to appreciate a "birthday" but I am sure you and your whole family will because if not for her being born...there wont be a great man like you raising a wonderful family. Kiss your Mom for me and whisper Blessed Birthday for all of us...

10:52 AM  
Blogger bayibhyap said...

What a touching story, rolly. I have read and reread your post and found myself in a state of difficulty every time I try to pen down some words of consolation for you. Whether she is aware of your presence or whether she recognises anyone of you should not matter, for the privilege of reciprocating the love of a mother has no boundaries and is not bound by conditions. But it pains our heart to see her suffer. It pains our heart to have to tie her hands for her own good. It rips our hearts apart when she talks about seeing people who are no longer around. Take heart, mr friend. I share your pain and I am sorry that I can't do more.

8:18 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Ajay You know what? I would suggest you make sure there's always someone who will talk to your mother. And everytime she would show signs of forgetfulness, make sure you make her remember. My mother started forgetting little, inconsequential things like, "What's the name of that place again?" or something like that.

Bong Buti naman at naka access ka na ng mga blog. hirap no sa mga tulad nating addict, no? Thanks for the kind words. Take good care of your mom.

Cerridwen That's precisely what I've been thinking everytime I think of my dad. I had only started working when he passed away. He never saw what became of me. At least my mom managed to see all my children. Thanks for your very caring words.

Bayi "Take heart, mr friend. I share your pain and I am sorry that I can't do more"

But you have done a lot already with your words, my friend. Yes, it doesn't matter anymore whether she still recognizes us or not. My only regret is that we couldn't give her all the comfort the material world can give her, at least. A private nurse, a more comfortable bed... i can't even give her a massage every night.

10:56 PM  
Blogger TinTin said...

(aka pinayhekmi)

tito rolly not sure where my comment went. I was sooo sure I commented. Well, my grandfather went had the same disease and it is heartbreaking to watch. My grown uncles, men who never cried, were crying rivers watching their father decline. Let us hope they find a cure soon.

8:23 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

TinTin What is really bad is when you have seen how the person deteriorated, and fast. It just seemed like yesterday when my mother would come to my house to visit her grandchildren. My mother's strength of character is totally gone. Nothing was left but memories. And that's what I want to remember when she passes away, not this almost vegetable existence. But what am I to do, right. Your'e correct. The phenomenon will soften anybody's heart.

8:31 AM  
Blogger bayibhyap said...

The agony and pain in your dilemma comes through and tugs the string of our hearts.

9:52 AM  
Blogger metal said...

Tito Rolly..reading this post really made me heavy hearted. it hurts seeing somebody with that condition, your mother at that. Sometimes, how I wish we could turn back the hands of time and again be in the arms of our mothers, with that old glow in their eyes and unwrinkled face. I, too want my old mother back...

God bless her Tito Rolly...

1:44 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Bayi There is something to rejoice about today. Doc Emer, a good friend that he is, went to see my mom with his soulmate, and his diagnosis is that while my mom is suffering from alzheimer, she is still strong. Her BP is normal and never had I seen her as talkative as this morning. Thanks for your concern man.

Metal We have to accept the fact that this is life. it's inevitable and we have to face reality. Sure it hurts but knowing that all of us are bound to go this way, given that all things are equal, it would be lighter on the heart. Thanks for your concer. Appreciate it.

4:59 PM  
Blogger bayibhyap said...

Dr Emer and Jane are indeed and in deed good friends to have. :)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Apol said...

nakakatats naman 'tong entry nyo. lalo pa nga at mama's boy ako (sabi ng misis ko). muntik na tuloy ako maiyak. pero swerte pa rin mother nyo kasi nandyan kayo.

ang bait-bait talaga ni dr emer =)

6:32 PM  
Blogger karampot said...

Hi Tito Rolly, its always difficult pag isang member ng family na napaka-importante ang nasa ganyang kalagayan. Lalo na if its somebody who's been there all your life diba. My husband lost his mother in 2003 20 days after I gave birth to our son. It was very painful for the whole family and up until now, we're still in tears. But before that, we saw her suffer for about 3 months and it was not a pretty sight so I understand how you feel. Prayer lang po na sana dadating ang time at magiging magaang ang lahat para sa kanya at sa inyo.

Existence has always been an issue well discussed by people, kasi nga everyone is concerned about life and death sooner or later. If you're interested about afterlife there is a book I've read, Many Lives, Many Masters from Dr. Weiss. I don't say I believe what the book says but the idea is nice: That we reincarnate into different persons because life is a teacher. Maybe it would comfort you in a way. God bless.

12:03 AM  

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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.


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