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What Mom taught me about perspective

“Fawn,” my mother said. Her eyes brightened with recognition, thrilled by the surprise visit. “I’m so happy…”

That was an extreme moment of clarity from a once brilliant woman who has faded into the fog of Alzheimer’s and has been in a nursing home now for three years. She’s not doing well this week — she has the MRSA infection throughout her body and we’ve gotten a mixture of reports from her caregivers. They range from hopeful to dark, and there is a thread of seriousness and worry that connects them all. This is a tough time, and it confounds me because she seems healthy on the outside.

My mom had a major stroke in 1992 when she was 66 years old. The signs of Alzheimer’s appeared eight years ago. My father took care of her until he literally wore his back out and we had to let her go to a nursing home three years ago. It is a place where she is happy and feels safe.

I don’t think anyone would have imagined she would have willed her way into her eighties, but that is what she did. Instead of becoming depressed over her loss of independence and mobility, she embraced life fully, finding joy in everything she did. I think of that all the time, because I sometimes get so wound up in the demands of the day that I forget how meaningless those hassles are.

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Mom can’t communicate much, but she can communicate love. That is what has kept her going and has filled her life with more meaning than most able-bodied, fully-alert people have.

I’d like you to meet her. She’s the most amazing woman I have ever met. This short video tells you a truly inspiring story.

  1. Fawn, what a beautiful story. It explains so much about you and that perpetual twinkle in your eye. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Fawn, your mom is an inspiration for love, for families, for what is really meaningful. Thanks for opening up and sharing her with us in a way that you just can’t on the stage or in your books. My mom and I do a lot together, we are flying from St.Louis to Chicago to go to the opera in October, and I never take it for granted.

  3. Wow, incredibly moving. Thanks for letting us share your mom, Fawn. She is an an amazing woman.

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