Sometimes, we might not have the words right in the moment, but through contemplation and the creative practice of writing, the depth of understanding comes. Here a son reflects on the gifts his mother gave him in a letter he wrote to her after her death. Writing a letter to a loved one (even if you never send it) can be a healing act.
Thank you Steve Demakos for sharing your reflections on being a caregiver for your mother. It is an inspiration to us all to cherish the times we have with loved ones.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift you have given to me for the last five years- making my home your home with warmth, laughter, smiles, and lots of hugs. You may not know this, but in this time you taught me the truest meaning of love. It’s as if you have given me two lives. The first, of course, many years ago in a New York City hospital. The second life beginning the day I started helping you with your Alzheimer’s and continuing for the five years you lived with me at Valley View Road here in Ithaca. This is where you showed me that giving is more powerful than taking and can actually heal a fractured relationship. You and I became best friends and in our five years together you offered to me the fierce love of a mother and the genuine loyalty of a best friend. You and I together- remember I would always tell you we were a team- showed the world that having Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that a good life is over. Together you and I started new family traditions. Your favorite: every Sunday morning a homemade cinnamon bun with your coffee. My favorite: the deal that we made that whenever you would give me a smile, I would give you a hug, which turned into countless hugs.
On Thanksgiving morning, when you decided it was time for you to move on, I was overcome with a sense of loss that no words could ever describe. I have come to realize that that may have been your greatest gift to me. As time goes on, I realize that you and your love haven’t gone anywhere. You and your love reside deep inside me, exactly where they were that day in the New York City hospital when you helped me come into the world.
Mom, I will close for now with one more of our traditions: as I would say to you every night before you would fall asleep, “thank you for being my mom”. And you would say to me, “it’s my pleasure”.