When I started having babies, I always imagined my mom being there for the big milestones in their lives. I was very close to my grandma while growing up. She was there for everything…from the smaller things such as birthdays and choir concerts and piano recitals to the bigger life events-my baptism, graduations and weddings. I suppose I took for granted the fact that I had a loving, active grandma in my life and I naively assumed nothing would be different when I had my own kids.
Every year brings about changes with dementia. This is the first year that my mom is declining to come to her grandchildren’s birthday parties. While she did come to my son’s birthday (in April), she has not made an appearance at any other grandchild’s birthday.
This past month, our two oldest girls graduated high school. This, of course, was a big deal and I spent hours preparing not only for the graduation itself, but for a party in their honor. Even though the girls are not my children by birth (Amber is my stepdaughter and Maurina is my husband’s niece who we adopted), my family has never differentiated them from the rest of our kids. My parents have always accepted them and treated them just as their own biological grandkids. I had always imagined my mom being there for these big life moments. But the concept is gone. This is the first big milestone that she’s missed with her grandkids. I could not even get her to understand the concept of graduation, let alone get her out to a graduation ceremony or family party. I admit it was hard not having my mom there with us. It is becoming a part of life-to not have her there. Though we are adjusting and accepting the fact that mom cannot be “there” for us anymore, every holiday, every birthday, every life milestone has an emptiness without her presence.
On a side note, this post wouldn’t be complete without thanking those people in my life who are always there for me in times when I need them most. I miss not having my mom here to help prepare for holidays, parties, etc; not just physically, but emotionally as well. Thank you to the people who are there for me emotionally and a big thank you to my amazing Aunt Peggy and Uncle David who took time off work and drove down from Northern California for graduation week. While they were here, they made a point to come not only to graduation, but also to my son’s baseball game and my daughter’s swim meet. There were here with me all day on Friday prepping for the party and my Aunt stayed up until midnight the night before their drive down to make cake pops for the party. I am truly grateful that my Aunt takes the time to be there for me and for my children in the absence of my mom. She’s probably the closest thing I have to a mother figure right now and I love her dearly! Also, my sister-in-law, Amber, spent her entire morning the day of the party to help me out with decorating cupcakes and food prep. Anytime I have a big event like this going on, she is always there to help. I appreciate that so much. And, even though my Aunt Ellen was sick and unable to attend the party, her husband brought by a couple of platters of food. She had offered to bring something “since [my] mom isn’t around to help” any longer. That was a very meaningful gesture. Though I will always miss my mom, I am so grateful for the people in my life who try to help fill that void; both those that I’ve listed and many more that I haven’t!
And of course thank you to the rest of the family and friends who came to celebrate with us and shower the girls with gifts and love!