“I don’t know who you are, but you’re welcome to stay.”

Ima and Marta

There have been a lot of comings and goings in our house lately, and my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, can’t keep up. She walked into the living room yesterday, saw my husband playing the piano, and said “oh, are you spending the night too? Well, I don’t know who you are, but you’re welcome to stay.”

Can you imagine being so generous? I’ve heard that when Alzheimer’s strips away everything else, it leaves the core personality. My grandmother, for instance, was reduced to one word near the end, but that word was “honey.” The doctor was impressed. “I’ve heard a lot worse words from Alzheimer’s patients,” he said. “Your grandmother must have been a loving woman.”

Earlier on, when my third baby was a newborn, I was changing her diaper and she peed all over the place. As I tried to gather clean clothes and mop up, she lay there, soaking wet and wailing. My mother rushed in and picked her up anyway. She couldn’t remember the baby’s name at that point, but it didn’t matter. She was a baby who needed to be held.

It seems that my mother has forgotten almost everything but how to love. There’s a high chance that I will get Alzheimer’s myself when the time comes, and I’m scared of what the disease will reveal at my core. I hope that, as with my mother, it will be love.

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7 thoughts on ““I don’t know who you are, but you’re welcome to stay.”

  1. What a lovely photo! When my grandma could no longer say much of anything, my three-y-o looooved visiting her because here was the one person who listened intently to his lengthy stories and never interrupted or left to do something else. I think she liked having someone who loved being with her and didn’t feel obliged or miss what she had been.

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  2. A friend who was a deacon in our church was only able to say “Oh Lord Jesus Christ” for quite a while at the end. I would love for that to be my core!

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  3. My Grandad had Alzheimer’s for the last 15 years of his life. I never knew him any other way. He was gentle and loving ’till the end.

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  4. Alzheimer’s is such a terrible disease. I wish you and your family all the best. It sounds like you come from a family and wonderful women X

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