I was longing for her to show an interest in my children and in my life
My mum is only 62 but she is living in a dementia care home as she got diagnosed with Korsakoff Syndrome which is a chronic memory disorder caused by alcohol and years of excessive drinking. She can’t create new memories and she is also unable to learn anything new so she is sort of stuck and she can’t remember what she did five minutes earlier. She does recognise people from photographs and she remembers me and my sisters but she has lost interest in other people meaning it’s almost always a one way conversation with her.
It’s sad that for so many years all we did was worry about her as and it was with dread that we’d phone her never knowing what state she would be in. We were sure we would lose her to alcohol and we honestly didn’t think she would live past her sixties. She then had a severe seizure that left her with brain damage and the doctor said that she had most likely had Korsakoff for a while. She now needed constant care and was placed in a care home.
It’s scary that alcohol has made her this way and that she is permanently damaged from drinking so many years. It’s like I’ve lost my mum although she is here. I used to think I had lost her to alcohol but I was always hoping she would one day quit drinking and decide to try her hardest to stay sober. But now me and my sisters have lost her to this syndrome that she’ll never fully recover from.
I was hoping she would have a relationship with my own children and I was longing for her to show an interest in them and in my life. But sadly all she cared about was alcohol and even though I know that deep down she loved us very much she wasn’t strong enough to fight her own demons.
My mum was once a very creative person, she loved painting, sewing, knitting, cross stitching and it was only recently that I looked closely at one of her beautiful pieces that I realised she had so much potential and could have made a career of all this creativity. Not only was she good at painting and sewing but also a fabulous dancer who danced ballet from a very early age. She spoke many languages, was charming and beautiful. I write ‘was’ as though she is no longer here which isn’t the fact but in a way she isn’t here anymore as I feel she’s no longer the same person after being diagnosed with this condition.
In a way this is better than before as now she isn’t drinking anymore and we know she isn’t killing herself slowly with alcohol. But she’s had to pay the price with losing her memory and her personality. The one wish I had since being a young child when blowing out my birthday candles was that mum would stop drinking. That wish has come true but we can’t rebuild or take back all those years we’ve lost as she is no longer present, she lacks empathy and it’s like she is lost inside herself.
I wrote this poem a few years ago and I shared it on my blog mumiwishicouldtellyou.wordpress.com
When I close my eyes I can still smell your addiction. I can still sense your mental state, I can still tell how many drinks you’ve had by just looking at your back or the way you stand. Your little finger is the tiniest part of your body giving away if you’re drunk or not. The way you flick your hair or the way you roll a cigarette. The way you rummage through your handbag for a lighter or the way the dogs avoid you when you stumble in through the door.
The way you would turn up the music and get up and dance, once on top of a table until you fell down. Someone said ‘oh your mum is so much fun, the soul of the party’. No, for an eleven-year-old girl seeing her mum in a heap I despised those comments from strangers who had no clue that this was not just once in a while, no this was most days. The way I would worry about you, being a mum to my own mum.
The way you would look at me the next day, guilt in your eyes, maybe a silent sorry, a quick kiss, that moment of sobriety before you took a sip of that mornings first beer. Then it all started over again and the knot in my stomach would tighten….it was the way you made me believe you, that today was the last day you’d drink, tomorrow you said you’d stop. But that day never came.