I see, looking in my Photos library, that fours ago tomorrow, I spent Saturday afternoon in the kayak, on the lower Charles River, paddling the area from Magazine Beach to just past the Lechmere Viaduct. I remember Mum and I went out to breakfast at Westbury Farms that Sunday, like we usually did.
It was the last “normal” weekend we’d have for quite some time. The next morning, she was calling for me in the bathroom, after falling into the tub. I got her out, she brushed off my inquiries, but after finding out later that morning that she’d fallen a couple of more times, we called her doctor. When we got to the doctor’s office, she immediately sent her over to the hospital in the ambulance, where we found out she’d had a stroke.
I’d noticed the day before that she’d seemed a little shaky climbing the porch steps, but she’d dismissed my concerns. Now we found out out that not only had she had a stroke, but there were signs of other, previous strokes that she either hadn’t noticed, or hadn’t mentioned before.
That fall, she had a series of strokes — she’d recover a little, then she’d have another one. She spent time in Spaulding Rehab, where one of the therapists told me she’d never seen a patient who tried so hard. I still remember seeing her walk again for the first time, and I remember her coming home again, and the first time she stepped out of the house again on her own.
Unfortunately, the strokes never stopped coming. She recovered well in 2020, to the point where she insisted on doing the dishes, because she wanted to feel like she was contributing, but had another Halloween day, and then another major one in May of 2021. That one robbed her of all of her gains of the past year, and more. It became impossible to keep her at home because she needed full time care.
The strokes also led to vascular dementia, to the point where she has next to no short term memory, and has trouble expressing thoughts. When you visit her now, you can tell she’s sad and frustrated, but she can’t verbalize what’s bothering her. They have also left her left side almost completely spastic.
In four years Mum’s gone from independent and capable, driving, running her own home and sociable, to completely disabled, dependent on assistance for all the activities of daily life, and non-communicative. When I look at her now, and look at how she once was, I want to cry.