In all honesty, I am not sure whether to celebrate or mourn your arrival. How can this possibly be the eighth month of the year? Everything I set out to do in January has taken a completely different turn, and nothing of what I had envisioned for myself in 2022 has taken place thus far. On the other hand, my life has been completey turned upsidedown and changed for the better in ways I never could have imagined and I find myself rather bewildered at the moment.
You and I know that you have always been a special month to me, second only to my birth month, but you gave me someone very special. Mommy. The fiery and temperamental Leo who was protected me from the very beginning, and stood up for me when others would not. She pushed when others pulled, embraced when others rejected, and shouted what some only dared to whisper. She taught me that the role of motherhood means the following:
As Mommy grew older and looked back on her life, taking stock of all her unfulfilled dreams, I vowed to carry on the dream for her. I had no clue at the time how I would ever achieve them, but somehow I sensed she would continue to guide and protect me from wherever she was.
The thing about Alzheimer’s is that you end up being a unwilling witness to the deterioration of a beautiful mind. It broke my heart to watch Mommy fade into oblivion little by little. It had crept up on us over the years, always with the little things that we chalked up to forgetfulness and ageing. But when misplacing the house keys escalated to forgetting something on the stove, repetitive stories or questions within shorter time frames, not remembering whether she had taken her medicine, missing words and incomplete sentences when speaking, or slipping in the bathroom because she fell asleep, we all got worried and knew that the time had come to make her into a patient and a dependent, something she dreaded her entire life.
I am grateful that I had the most important conversations with her while she was fully functional. Her knowledge was passed on at the right time, including all the family anecdotes. So I look back on her life and marvel at her strength, understand her stance the older I got, and hoped that one day I would have the honour of making her dreams come true.
The first dream Mommy never fulfilled, in spite of all the travels around the world, was to visit Fatima. She made it to Lourdes, but made me promise to go to Fatima for her. So, my dear August, where do I find myself now? In the country where Mommy’s faith always wanted to lead her to but was never meant to arrive at.
The second dream Mommy had is something she told me about almost 30 years ago. When I grow old, all I want is a small house on a hill overlooking the valley and watching the world go by in peace and silence. Try as I might, everywhere I ended up living after that day – I can still picture her in the car telling me this while I drove – I never ended up in a house on a hill.
Ah my dear August, you are that precious bumper month that is not quite the end of summer nor are you the beginning of autumn yet either. It is a time to turn things around, prepare for the changes to come, and be grateful for all the miracles and opportunities that have crossed my path. So thank you, for being the quiet storm of fortitude that brings change. Thank you for keeping the dream alive.