Post 4: The Beginning – Part II- No Turning Back


(Written by Heidi): 
Jan 2008, Mom goes to the doctor for the first time. At the time I thought it was out of fear that they [mom and dad] waited so long to go to the doctor’s. They both thought it may be Alzheimer’s, since my mom’s side of the family has a history of it. Both my grandma’s mom and brother had passed from Alzheimer’s, or at least what they were diagnosed with at the time. From January through May of 2008 my mother received several tests trying to determine why she was quickly losing the ability to speak the words she wanted to say. I tried to not think the worst and that it was only menopause, however I realized how serious the problem was, when I talked to my mom’s friend from work.

I remember it was Greek Week and that night we were in the gym for the basketball event at Robert Morris University. I was cheering on the fraternity brothers with my sorority sisters when I noticed my phone ringing. It was my mom’s coworker and friend. She had called to discuss the plans for her daughter’s wedding I was filming that coming summer.
While on the phone she said, “Heidi, I don’t want to go off topic but the ladies at work and I am worried about your mother. She usually is a sharp person, always taking charge, and now she is having trouble saying particular words and getting her thoughts straight. For example, last week it was her anniversary, and I asked her how long she has been married and she couldn’t figure it out.”
My initial reasoning was “Well, she has been married awhile so it’s probably natural to have to stop and think about the exact number of years.” However this year was their 30th wedding anniversary and even my father, out of all people, remembered that. We (the family) already knew something was wrong, that’s why she was getting tests done, but this phone call carried a lot of weight. Realizing other people were beginning to notice made the situation feel so real all of the sudden. We could not turn back, we could not deny anything anymore.

"Mommy, my feet hurt..."
"Well, put your shoes on the correct feet next time." x
Once I got off the phone, I just wanted to cry.  We still had no idea what was wrong, but we could no longer pretend or hope it was menopause, lack of activity, exhaustion – there was not a simple explanation; that we now knew.  The issue might be worse than I could image. 

I put my phone away, posed a smile and joined my friends.  That night was one of the first, and the first of many, good hard cries that would I would fall asleep to.
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