American Battle Monument, 1970

Once upon a time, shortly after I had graduated from college, I asked her what her dream role was. “You know ang gusto Ko talagang role na I portray yung bang matanda na malilimutin na pero pa minsan minsan may moment na nakaka-alala pa sya. Kahit Walang bayad, gagawin ko iyang role na iyan.”

The ironies of life. One must really be careful of what one wishes for. At this point I don’t know whether I should be grateful that she’s now unknowingly, portraying the dream role she had hoped for many years ago. Perhaps it will help in the coping, if I reframe things this way. Should I think of it as an answered prayer?

My mother is fading. Day by day, week by week. It is the most difficult challenge of my adult life, next to losing my son. Anticipatory grief. This is what this is all over again. With my son, we had two whole weeks to fight, to hope, to pray that he would get better. And when he did not, we had a few days to accept and to surrender.

Alzheimer’s is a different story. The waiting time is years. It is anticipatory Grieg because your heart shatters into tiny bits and pieces as the person you once knew and loved fades away. She’s there, but she’s not all there. You need to find a sense of humor. You need to rise above it. You have to accept it for what it is, and not deny it. You empower yourself by reading up about this dreaded disease. You have to love at all costs, even if now you have to love from a distance. You must never take advantage of the situation. You must do all you can to slow down the progression of the disease. That is the moral thing to do.

I held back about writing about her condition because of who she is. But just like how it is with mental health conditions, we add to the stigma if we don’t write or speak up about it. A wise friend who had gone on a similar journey told me this: “I suggest you write it, still. Your Mom’s a well-respected figure. No one will mock her for her dementia, your revelations about her going through it is sure to benefit more people.”

Shortly after her diagnosis, I picked up the book, “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova in an attempt to better understand what was to come. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read the last few paragraphs
You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”
“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.”
“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.

And this, is why I write.

2 thoughts on “Still Mom

  1. Hi Cathy,

    I was born in 1968 and became familiar with your mom, first through “Gulong ng Palad”, then in old movie reruns in Sine Siete. That’s why for the longest time, I thought Romnick Sarmenta’s name was really “Peping”. It stuck to me like glue.

    I’ve also watched her in talk show interviews and enjoyed her candidness, especially remembering in one show how she gushed about how handsome your dad was. She even showed a photo. 🙂

    She played her characters so well that if she’s a contrabida, you’ll hate her, and when she’s a mom like in Gulong ng Palad, you will cry with her.

    Caridad Sanchez will always be the formidable Caridad Sanchez to me, no matter what. I will include her in my prayers.

    Warm hugs from me to you, Cathy, and to your mom,
    Tonette

    Like

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