Precious Hand Squeeze

I honestly thought I had put the nightmarish trips to the medical supply shops behind me after Daddy died last month. All the leftover supplies were given away to those in need when we cleaned out the room prior to moving Mommy to her new apartment. Little did I suspect that I would need them all over again a mere 22 days later when Mommy had her stroke. So I find myself making regular expeditions again to buy diapers, bed pads, wet wipes, gloves, and everything a bedridden patient needs. The worst part is that I can read Mommy’s face and know that she hates every waking minute of it. This is the situation she feared the most and prayed fervently that she would never end up in the same condition Daddy was. Yet, here we are.

Communication is held to a minimum with Mommy. She has pockets of lucidity where she recognises everyone, or most people, can react, communicate, and smile her beautiful smile that I so miss now. But those moments are few and far between, overpowered by the darkness and her inability to remember or focus. There are times when she will have her eyes open and stare blankly at me, not really knowing who this human being is in front of her. These are the instances when my heart crumbles into a million pieces. My mother, my friend, my pillar, does not recognise me for the most part, and all I can do is sit by her bedside and cry. I can’t count the times in my life I have run to her loving arms for comfort and strength, seeking her counsel and wisdom, sharing secrets and unloading my burdens. It tears me apart not to be recognised by the woman who knew every fibre of my being and the echoes of my soul.

When I sit quietly beside her holding her hand, I am constantly amazed at how soft her skin is, and how gentle her touch, she will squeeze my hand three times. I ask her “do you know who I am?” and she nods in her state of semi-consciousness and squeezes my hand again, knowing instinctively she is telling me she loves me.

We have always held hands, and the older she grew and held on to my arm for support, the more we did so. In the same manner that she and Daddy communicated their love through holding hands when he could no longer say it to her, Mommy finds ways to tell me the same thing. Then there are the more painful moments when I hold her hand and she pulls it away or lets it hang limply in my grip because she has no idea who I am. From beloved daughter to complete stranger, the transition is painful.

It wasn’t too long ago when I was grateful for another day that I am able to kiss my mother good morning, instead of good bye.

It wasn’t too long ago when I knew for certain that Mommy would be waiting eagerly to share pancakes and coffee with me and ask about her granddaughter.

It was just last week that I was going nuts with her repetitive questions and stories that kept changing due to her Alzheimer’s. I so miss those questions.

It wasn’t too long ago when I could reach out, hold her hand, she would smile brightly and kiss my forehead. My heart rejoices now each time Mommy gives me the gift of a hand squeeze.

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