I love you I love you I love you

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

A Swift Current || Reflections on Jodie Foster's I Love You I Love You I Love You ||

I Remember You Every Day, a bench in Central Park…Photo by Hallie Swift

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7 thoughts on “I love you I love you I love you

  1. Such a powerful discussion needs to unfold. I loved this piece! As I begin this journey with my mother and my Aunt I am comforted by the bravery of your writing and your willingness to start the discussion.

    • I deeply appreciate your vote of confidence. When you think about it, it is astounding that we are reluctant to discuss a subject that is so prevalent, painful and demanding for all of us. And yet I can relate to the resistance, which I will discuss in a future post. Thank you for your generous words and I welcome your comments and observations as we explore this world.

  2. My father knows he’s quickly slipping away from his independent life, and more importantly, the last of his memories. He has likely been dealing with it much longer than any of us suspected. I’m finding it so hard to step into his life and his affairs, especially ones that were so personal and meaningful to him. Our decades old awkward dance quickly ended as he lost the past, and I set aside my judgements to help us both move forward. Thanks for your insights and the conversation.

  3. I did not deal with this pain of dementia with my Father. His time came, and he was locked in his body with that hideous Parkinson’s Disease holding him prisoner but he always knew who we were, where he was, what year it was and he tried so hard to make sure we knew his mind was there and that he had not left us yet. Two days before his death, this miracle occurred and
    he was able to sit up in bed, speak to all his children and grandchildren and even laugh with us. Addressed us all by name. In reading your post, it made me imagine what it would have been like if he did not know who we were. Thank you for this most thought provoking insight that may help prepare me for what may lie ahead with my Mother now that she is in her 90th year.

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