Spousal Support

I’ve been immersed in caring for my mother for the past four years, and with her recent move across country to a memory care home five minutes from my house, life  slowly comes back into focus. She’s safely nestled in her new place, and this brings me the peace to move forward.

I write daily now and bond with my dogs on morning runs. My schedule’s filled with volunteering and petsitting, trail runs and lunches with girlfriends.

And in the frenzy of resuscitating my life, I overlooked the most important relationship of all: my marriage.

“Hearing about your mother stresses me out,” he admitted last night, as I told him about my latest visit. “None of this has been easy for me.”

Hearing him vocalize his feelings, as rare as rain in our desert digs, hit me with the impact of a summer monsoon. He’s a no-nonsense, bottom-line guy, the kind who solves a problem and immediately moves on. The raw emotion in his voice was a wake-up call.

The mother-daughter bond is stronger than it’s ever been, and my marriage is solid. But some reassembly is required. So we’re planning a long-needed summer vacation. Booking movie dates and going out to dinner.

He was there for me in my early sobriety. He was there for me when I quit my job and moved to Maine with my mom. Now, it’s time for me to be there for him.


“She’s my very best friend,” my mother said. “Friends are important.”

Other than Edie, her closest friend in grade school, I’ve never known my mother to have a girlfriend, let alone a “very best” friend. She’s never been chummy with other women, a self-professed seeker of solitude. But finding a best friend in the very place I worried she would never adapt to?

Almost as startling as her disrobing in the care home parking lot after our walk down the greenbelt yesterday.

Mom’s acceptance of this new world continues to shatter my expectations. I worried she’d never join in. Last week, she led a gardening activity, helping other residents plant marigolds and marjoram. I worried she’d want to go back to Maine. Now, when I take her out to lunch, she can’t wait to return to her “house.” And her bestie.

Did you know:  Loneliness could be as dangerous to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?

Stranger Things

My mother was once a social butterfly: artist, writer, a celebrity in her community. Her days were filled with book signings and art exhibits. Then Alzheimer’s, the uninvited guest, snuck in through her mind’s door. Suddenly, she didn’t want to socialize, attend church, go to lunch. Acting as if she were her old self summoned every drop of strength, replacing courage with doubt.

She was a stranger in her own life.

It got worse when she moved to the city where I’ve lived for twenty-five years. This world is filled with stranger things: the care home’s multiethnic staff. Cacti gardens. Javelina.

Like the gradual metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, her old self is emerging. She’s found a group of ladies to lunch and take walks with. She’s more confident. Engaged.

The actress fades away. Strangers become friends. Today, we’re okay.

Learn more about the vital role of socializing in dementia