Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Hero, Elizabeth Patricia O'Callaghan Gehrke (Lily)

Looking back at my journey with Lily I have to say dealing with my mother 3 to 4 years ago was much tougher in some ways than the last year has been.  Although she was more independent then, meaning less work for me, she was more emotional, moody, and mean.  I wonder about that now and think perhaps it was due to a number of things not with just her, but also with me such as:

-me struggling to accept the diagnosis and what it would mean to herself, myself, and our family 

-her picking up on my feelings and reacting to them

-me trying to reorient her to reality even though I knew better

-her trying to cope with her diminishing abilities

-me trying to include her into my world and routine
-her hanging on desperately to what was left of her world and routine

-me trying to control too much
-her trying to maintain her independence

-me being able to let the small things go

-her just trying to continue to do the small things

-me learning to find humor wherever possible and encouraging her to laugh

-her dealing with uncertainty, loss, and depression with all the changes

-me learning to live in the moment and enjoying all that is left

-her trying to remember the lost moments

-me dealing with not very helpful family members

-her missing the people who were part of her old life

When I compare the two lists I would much rather be on my end. It brings tears to my eyes thinking of all my mother has had to work through and all her losses. Yes, there have been numerous hidden blessings, but even with all those I would still rather my mother have kept her cognitive abilities.  That obviously was not God's plan and we must roll with what we are given.  

I am proud of myself and my family for putting a  positive spin on this unforgiving disease, but most of all I sincerely admire my mother for her continual fight maintaining her positive spirit and her relentless get up and go, never giving up.  As hard as it is on the caregivers we must never forget all our loved ones have lost.



  1. Kerry,

    I have printed your post you wrote about your Mom being your hero and read it every time before I go to be with my Mom. I cannot even tell you how deeply it touched me. All the thoughts I have been trying to put into words and understand are now real. Thank you so much for this insightful writing.

  2. Kerry, this is a beautiful piece. Just sitting here with tears, as you've managed to enter your mom's world and try to see things from her point of view. And being so honest about what it's like from your end.....

    It's a beautiful piece, one that could only have been written by someone with an awful lot of love for the person who's slowly losing pieces of herself. Thank you.