Thursday, September 1, 2011

September – A Celebration of My Mom

You have all seen pictures of my mom, Linda,  on here.  She is beautiful and beaming in every one of them.  She is just as lovely in real life, I can promise you. 

You can’t tell from the pictures, but my mom struggles every day of her life. 

Almost five years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, or PPA.  It is a disease that robs it's victims of their use of speech.  For my mom it started off with a difficulty in remembering words.  She would be talking and midsentence couldn’t remember what word to use.  She would know exactly what she meant and what she wanted to say, but just couldn’t recall the word for it.  It progressed (as it does).  She soon couldn’t speak in public (something she was brilliant at before) and couldn’t read aloud.  At this point, speech is very difficult for my mom, and comprehending speech is exhausting and very frustrating. She has a very hard time filtering out the noises around her to understand what is being said, so even gatherings with all the grandkids, while joyous for her, are also very hard.

When you first hear about PPA, you cannot fully imagine the heartache that it brings -the dreams that die with the diagnosis, the days of depression that it inevitably brings on the sufferer, who is fully aware of what is being taken from them day by day.  Maybe someday I will write more about that, but let me write briefly about one of the tragedies of PPA.

My parents moved here two years ago to be close to family – three of their kids,  and 13 of their grandkids (now 14).  They left the small town that they had been home for almost 30 years.  They left all of their church friends, one of my mom’s sisters, her parents, all of the church members who knew her as a stalwart member of the ward, and a town full of people that knew her from one way or another.

Moving somewhere new – leaving all of that behind – is hard enough.  I can’t imagine doing it with PPA.  My mom is a brave woman though.  She still seeks people out.  She still keeps her eyes open for ways of serving.  She still smiles.
Sometimes when I am at church with her, or a baby shower, I see that smile on her face, and I hear her offer as many words as she possibly can to let people know that she cares and notices them.  I love her for it, and it makes me happy, but I can’t help but think, “None of these people really know my mom.  They have no idea how intelligent she is – how much humor she always brought to everyone around.  They have no idea how much strength and wisdom lies under that smile.”

My mom has not just lost her speech, she has lost a great deal of her identity.  This is a tragedy – that the world can’t fully know my mother. 

Don’t we all want to feel understood?  Don’t we all want to feel that the people around us know who we are? 

So for my mom’s birthday, which on the 15th, I want her to have that.  Some of the people who know her best will be sharing with the world who my mother is.  It might be difficult for her to comprehend everything that will be written here, but I will be praying daily that she will feel the messages we have for her even when she can’t completely understand them. 

For your birthday
I wanted you to know
That you have touched so many people.
We think that the whole world needs to know you.
Even if it is hard for you to talk now,
We will talk for you.
We will be your voice.
Every day, until your birthday
We will tell everyone who you are.
We love you.


Kelly said...

This was a lovely post. What an honor for her to have you as her daughter. I never even knew such a disease existed. What a brave woman!

jess and scott said...

I am look forward to reading and getting to know your mother better. Although I do not know her well I don't think anyone can miss the light in her eyes.

mom and grandma of BOLTON BUNCH said...

Well written introduction Katie. Looking forward to reading.

Lyric said...

Katie, this is so beautiful!

Olivia Carter said...

Lovely, just lovely.

LeAnn said...

I am bawling right now. I found your blog because one of your sisters posted the link on fb. I am one of those who loves and adores your mother, and because we moved from Blythe 5 years ago I only saw a small hint of the disease in her. When Lindsey told me several years ago about her diagnosis, I could hardly believe it. What an enormous trial for one who was so amazing at sharing her feelings! I remember talking to her for hours sometimes. I especially remember her making us feel so very welcome when we had just moved to a new town where we knew no one. My husband and I were very young then. We had just moved to Blythe. We were fresh out of college, facing living away from family for the first time, and also facing the challenge of raising our then 18-month-old son who has Down Syndrome. Your mother warmly welcomed us at church, then almost immediately invited us over for dinner. She made us feel loved, and like we belonged. She has made a huge impact on my life. I also want to be just like her!! I look forward to reading more of your lovely, eloquent posts about her.

Autumn Wilkins said...

This has me all choked up. Tight in the throat. I'm glad I can type what I want to say because if I had to speak it I just wouldn't be able to get through it. I hold your mother in the highest regard, respect, and love her. Having her around as a role model when I was a young woman was an immense blessing for me. A woman who has produced an entire family full of children (now grown) who are beautiful and kind and wonderful each in their own way deserves such a post. Thank you Katie.

Gaynelle said...

What a fabulous way to celebrate your mom's birthday.

Sami said...

Thank you Katie for this opportunity to praise your mom! I have always loved her! I remember moving to Blythe 20 years ago and how welcoming your mom was to our family. Your parents were a rock for us for so many years! I remember our trips to Education week in the big white van. I finally have my own big white van and think of your family often when I drive it. I remember when Sarah and Levi and I decided to be triplets for spirit week. Your mom whipped out our costumes in an afternoon. I was instantly amazed at your moms ability to produce something so wonderful in such a short amount of time with all the other things she had going on. She taught me attributes of a wonderful mom. I appreciated all her help with my wedding reception there in Blythe. I appreciated her opening her home to us when I went back for my 10 year high school reunion. She made me feel as if we had never left. Her love and her impression will be left in me forever. Thank you Linda. You are a rock and a foundation for me. You shall always be treasured as on of my heroes.

Katie, treasure this time. I can't help but think of my own mom right now and how happy she must be in heaven but oh how hard it is for me here on earth. Thank you for giving me this chance to say Thank you to your mom while she is still on this earth. God bless! Sami (Sutherland) Thompson

Tina Felix(Holley) said...

Oh my goodness Katie. I had no idea. This is such a beautiful post and tribute to your mother. It brought me to tears. I'm so glad to say that I too know your mom how how beautiful of a spirit she is! :)