It’s Mother’s Day this weekend. A lovely celebration to show our love for our often under-appreciated mums and everything they’ve done for us over the past year. It’s a lovely concept and needed in a society where the work mums do is often under-valued.
It’s a weekend when most of my friends are going home and doing something nice with their mums. Some are having a spa day, some are having afternoon tea or a meal out. But that’s not on the cards for me.
My mum was diagnosed with early onset-Alzheimer’s nearly seven years ago. Now, at 66, the Alzheimer’s is pretty advanced and she lives at home with my dad who cares for her 24/7. She is always confused, and often angry or distressed. She needs one-to-one attention at any given time. My two sisters and I go home as regularly as we can to help my dad out and give him much-needed time off.
We used to always make sure we were home for Mother’s Day, and our go-to presents were always caramel chocolate and books. She loved reading, Coronation Street and long soaks in the bath. I know everyone always says this, but our mum really was wonderful. She was great in a crisis, she had strong morals which she instilled in us and brought us up to be three strong independent women.
This Mother’s Day, I’ll be doing the 190-mile trip back home for Mother’s Day and Mum won’t recognise me. She won’t be able to have a conversation. She’ll get angry and confused as to who I am and why I’m there.
But still I’ll go to the shop and pick out a card, trying to get one as bland as possible and avoid one that says “best mum ever” or “thanks for always being there” because I physically can’t bring myself to say these things. I won’t know what to write in it as usual. It’s emotionally very hard to remember the good things about the old mum when you have to care for the current mum. I think they call it compartmentalising – it protects your brain from grieving constantly.
I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a mum who gives advice, tells you how proud she is of you, or even just have a normal conversation with. I can’t often allow myself to even imagine it. So what do I feel when Mother’s Day comes around every year? Sadness, trepidation and yes, a little bit of jealousy for those who get to spend the day with a mum who can show their love.
Mum has not for a long time, and will never again be able to enjoy Coronation Street, read a good book or have a nice long soak in the bath. But worse than that, this weekend I will not be able to show my appreciation for everything she did for me in a way that she’ll understand. But I’ll be there supporting my amazing dad and sisters through these hard times as Mum would have wanted. I suppose that is what Mother’s Day means to me.
About the author
Emily Allen, 31, became passionate about helping Alzheimer's Research UK after her mum Janet was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease when she was just 60. Emily makes regular trips from her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, to her family home in Reading, Berkshire, to help her dad with caring for her mum. Emily is the youngest of three sisters. Her sisters Liz Allen and Jane Cox are also media volunteers for the charity.