As I write this post, the actress Jodie Foster is still receiving headlines about her recent awards show speech. Largely ignored in this latest opinions-r-us frenzy is Foster’s poignant tribute to her mother Evelyn, who is declining into dementia.
Mom, I know you are inside those blue eyes somewhere and there are so many things that you won’t understand tonight. But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life. You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go.
I was deeply moved and grateful as Jodie Foster tearfully articulated the love and pain and desperate hopes of one daughter witnessing the brutality of this disease.
As we embark on a new year, A Swift Current will broaden the discussion to encompass the last decade of my Mother’s life; her struggle with dementia.
Like grief, dementia is a topic that brings instantly averted eyes and swiftly changed conversations. Despite the concern of our family and friends, I often felt very alone in my largely futile efforts to assuage my Mother’s torment and ease her decline.
Even on a good day, “eldercare” is complicated and tough. How do you care for someone with 85 years worth of opinions?
But there you are, taking away the car keys.
The journey into dementia means new, uncomfortable roles; unrelenting stress; unimagined sorrows. But for me, amid the pain, there was unqualified joy. Amid the confusion, there were unexpected gifts. The decade-long struggle engendered a renewed love and even deeper dimension to our bond. For the first time as adult women, we were inextricably immersed in each other’s lives. And neither of us was truly independent, ever again.
It was “for better and for worse”—even though we never said those vows.
But Jodie Foster, in the most public of forums, spoke to this harrowing reality. And because of her words, many sons and daughters of dementia feel a little less alone in the world. Would that we all could openly and freely and publicly reiterate her prayer; share our sorrow; and embrace our heretofore unspoken vows.
Mom, I know you are inside those blue eyes somewhere
And there are so many things that you won’t understand tonight
But this is the only important one to take in
I love you I love you I love you
And I hope that if I say this three times
It will magically and perfectly enter into your soul
Fill you with grace
And the joy of knowing that you did good in this life
You’re a great mom
Please take that with you when you are finally OK to go