Hello everyone. I am writing this in late December 2008. If you are a regular user of this site, you know that nothing has changed in, like, forever. I have not been able to keep up the site except for minor corrections here and there (such as fixing broken links when they are brought to my attention).
The reason is that in 2006 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was a beautiful and brilliant woman who lived alone until she was 85, with just some memory loss and a few odd behaviors that I did not that think were that important. I was wrong. For that time period, I have done everything for her – dealing with lawyers, doctors, emergency rooms, Medicare, Social Security, pension, insurance companies, utility companies, finding her a short-term spot in a nursing home to get her stabilized on meds, finding her the world’s best assisted living facility and world’s best private aide, visiting her every day often for 2-3 hours, driving her to doctor appointments, buying things she needed, etc. You get the picture.
My mother died on her wedding anniversary, November 24th, after surgery to remove a blood clot – too little, too late. She was in Hospice care for three weeks and I sat by her bed, doing everything I could for her. However, the blood clot was God’s mercy, as her Alzheimer’s had not progressed to where she did not recognize me and her grandchildren, who were all able to come say good-bye while she was awake. In the months before she died, she was still able to laugh and to sing (she had a beautiful operatic voice – the Metropolitan Opera wanted to train her when she was 16 but her father said no). She had not yet become bedridden, unable to swallow, etc. so we were still able to have some fun.
Our family are all believing Catholics. She had a very beautiful, very peaceful, very loving and holy last few weeks. Everyone was able to surround her bed, look into her eyes, and smile with love. She had Last Rites not once but twice; we had a beautiful Mass of Christian Burial with some of my favorite songs – “O God Beyond All Praising” (the melody is the Jupiter movement from Gustav Holst’s “Planets”) and “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.” We did not have “Ave Maria” sung only because no one could sing it as beautifully as she could. Masses were said all over the world for her, on almost every continent, as priest friends heard the news.
Her name was Amelia Gerardi, if any of you are inclined to pray for her or for my family…
Fifty percent of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s. It is a disease, not a normal result of aging and NOT because a person didn’t exercise her body or mind! We are going to be hit by a tsunami of cases as the “Baby Boom” generation ages….might be a good cause to donate to.