One year ago today my mother died.
Mom circa 1993
She had multiple medical problems and lived the last 10 years of her life in a nursing home. She was 75 years old. What killed her was Parkinson’s Disease. She suffered from Bipolar Disorder, so we thought the delusions were due to that. We didn’t know enough about Parkinson’s to know it is the dementia that gets them in the end.
My mother and I had an odd relationship. From when I was in elementary school I was more the parent to her than she was to me. I feel like I raised myself. My mother was suffering from depression for years and years before she was given a diagnosis. I remember her when I was little just lying on the couch or in her bed, always saying she had to rest. Allegedly she tried to kill herself with an overdose of aspirin when I was 5.
I knew there was something wrong with my mother during my childhood, but it wasn’t until I was almost 16 that I knew what it was called. Manic depression was what they called it back in the 80s. She was admitted to a CSU due to her bizarre and manic behavior. All my life my mother was depressed and now she was a different manic person. She was prescribed Lithium, one of many future medications.
She wasn’t able to work. She struggled to raise 3 kids. She tried her best. I had the opportunity to leave when I was 16. I knew that I had to get away in order to live my life. It was a tough decision to move hundreds of miles away at a young age. I would visit and call. A couple times I moved back, but it never worked out.
My mother was not just a mentally ill person. She went through a lot in her 75 years. She survived a very abusive marriage. She had three children. She worked hard. She always tried to help other people. She was funny. She loved her 7 grandchildren. She was sweet and caring.
About 6 months before my mother died I had my last conversation with her. I didn’t call when she was delusional. It was too upsetting. They also took her phone away at the phone because she kept falling out of bed reaching for it. I am sure she was miserable not being able to talk to everyone. That last conversation she was lucid and I caught her up on what she had missed while she was in the hospital. It was a good conversation. She was ready to die. She was tired. She almost died months prior. She was in pain and suffering. She said she wished she had gotten to know my husband better. That was sweet.