Forget Me Not

Our new book, Motherhood Realized, launched this week. And I thought it would be appropriate to share a special story that has been close to my heart.

Many of you know that my mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s. It’s been progressing over the past three years, and seeing this hero of mine lose her memory has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. So when I first saw the cover design for our new book, it stopped me in my tracks–completely taking my breath away.

Forget-me-nots. motherhoodrealized

Considering the fact that one of the key chapters in this book is the post in which I first acknowledged what was happening with my mother, our designer’s choice of flower was simultaneously appropriate and heartbreaking. (I’m not even sure if he knew how poignant his decision was…)

“Forget me not” could very well be marked as my personal theme for the past few years. It’s that phrase that keeps running through my head every time my children and I make our Thursday drive to Long Beach to take care of my mom. It’s that phrase I think about whenever we get to her house and I’m about to look her in the eyes for the first time in a week. It’s that phrase I’ve been living with ever since the very first moment I sensed that something wasn’t right.

Please, Mom…please don’t forget me.

I know it probably seems irrational, but I have been holding onto this fear for years now–this fear that the day would come when my mother would look me straight in the eye and have no recollection of any of the moments we had experienced together.

Well, that day came a few weeks ago.

It was during one of my regular weekly visits, and she simply didn’t know me…at all.

Sometimes I was her granddaughter, and sometimes I was my sister. At one point, I was a student in her shorthand class.

April.ZoeI guess it really shouldn’t have mattered because she still hugged me, kissed me, sang with me, and even wiped a little tear that had escaped down my cheek, but as I drove home that night with sleeping children in the van, I simply couldn’t hold myself together.

That was definitely a hard night, but since then, I have received an outpouring of love and advice from friends and family around the globe, and especially from you–this incredible community at Power of Moms.

Your strength and wisdom has finally helped me to overcome this fear of being forgotten (though of course it’s still hard). And I thought today I could share the beautiful ideas I have learned with you.

(1) The love between a mother and her child doesn’t stop…ever.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a friend who said that even though my mother might not know my name, she’ll know that there is something unique about our relationship. And she’ll see me as “LOVE.”

I know that’s true–especially when I think back to one specific conversation my mom had with my sister, Lisa.

It had been a long day. My mom was exhausted, and we could tell she was confused.

“I am not your mother.” she told Lisa. “I am the person who is your mother when your real mother can’t be here.”

“Who am I?” Lisa asked softly.

“You know who you are.” my mom responded–trying to brush off the question.

“Yes, I know who I am, but do you know who I am?”

My mom paused for a moment. She brought Lisa around right in front of her, and Lisa knelt down so she was looking directly into my mom’s eyes.

They sat there for a few seconds–Lisa with a sweet smile, hoping my mom would know her name (but realizing she probably didn’t), and my mom searching Lisa’s face deeply, waiting for something to trigger her memory.

Finally she gave the best answer she could give, and her words have played over and over again in my mind ever since:

She simply said, “I know I love you . . . very much.”

That mother-love simply doesn’t end. I’ve included a couple of 20-second audio clips, in case you’d actually like to hear my sweet mom:

  • This one is when my mom forgot me.
  • This one is when she forgot herself.

Both of these clips make me smile. I keep them on my phone.

Is my mom not the cutest?

(2) When you are about to lose someone, you come to understand what your relationship really means.

Ever since that night when my mom didn’t know me, I’ve stopped expecting her to say my name. But occasionally, she surprises me.

april.zoe.motherhoodrealized.powerofmomsLike the other night when we were chopping vegetables together, and I said casually and cheerfully, “I love you, Mom.” She replied softly, “I love you, too, April.”

I had to turn my head so my change in emotion wouldn’t surprise her. That response was more than I expected, and my name never sounded so sweet.

I am living my life differently now. Less focus on email, less worry about how I look in my jeans. More time loving the people in my life. They matter most.

(3) The best way to lose a mom is to BE a great mom–and help strengthen other moms.

I’ve come to the realization that I can’t control everything that happens to me. But I have all the control in the world over what I do with my time and how I raise my family.

ClownNosesThis is why I hug and kiss my children every chance I get. This is why I take my daughter to craft stores–even though they make me dizzy. And this is why I pick up clown noses when they’re on sale and ask the cashier if we can wear them home.

Motherhood Realized is not just a book. It’s a cause.

It is time for all of us–the mothers worldwide–to realize how important and beautiful this experience of family life is and then stand up and exclaim that we know it.

Yes, motherhood is hard. I am no stranger to that. But in the end, this is what life is for. This time with our children is our most valuable treasure. And together we help each other develop the conviction and ability to build the strong families we know can be ours.

At the end of all this, I think the goal of every deliberate mother is to have created a home life that is so powerful and so beautiful that when our children are grown and gone, they can’t possibly forget us.

 

_______________________________

 

Motherhood Realized is available TODAY from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

These books are perfect for Mother’s Day, birthdays, baby showers, or “just because.”

They’re written for mothers of all backgrounds, all religions, and all family sizes, and we would absolutely love for you to support this book launch by sharing the book with those you love.

As of today, March 25th, this book is #1 in “Motherhood” books on Amazon, and we are working to make the NYTimes Bestsellers’ list.

Your support this week means the world to us.

And for those who order by Saturday, March 29th, there are special prizes you won’t want to miss!

Visit our Book Page for Details!

 

BarnesNoble.Book

Order.MotherhoodRealized.Amazon* Due to the huge response to this book launch, the Amazon page linked above may say the book is out of stock, but you can go ahead and make your purchase now. Amazon has assured us that your book(s) should ship within the next couple of days. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rachel Clare Photography

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Comments

  1. Grayson says

    Thank you for this open and heartfelt post about your mother. It’ll be five years this spring since my father passed away with the disease. I had a good cry while reading and appreciate your perspective on process while still living it. I’m sure it will be a post I read and reread whenever I need to feel close to my father. Somehow I know he is proud of me and my daughters ages 6 and 3 that he never got to know. I like to imagine him with his mind fully sharp watching me wrangle my two highly spirited daughters whom he would have so enjoyed. Your children are blessed to know their grandmother, whatever her state of mind, and blessed to watch you give her such unconditional love. Take good care of yourself. Thank you.

    • April Perry says

      Thank you, Grayson. So sorry for YOUR loss. I read that there are 14 million people caring for parents with Alzheimer’s right now. So hard. But yes, there is a beauty and a closeness present–and so many sweet experiences that it makes it okay. I love that thought of your father watching you with your girls. Thanks for your comment, and keep going!!! Love, April

  2. says

    Oh, April, thank you for opening your heart and sharing something so personal. I’ve learned so much from reading all of your beautiful posts throughout the years. This was a wonderful reminder of what is truly important in life. Power of Moms is such blessing!

  3. Koni Smith says

    I love you, April! Thank you for sharing this. It made me cry. It makes my heart hurt for you, but I love how you try to see the positive in it. How blessed your mom is to have such a daughter as you, even though she doesn’t always remember. She will ALWAYS feel your love! Bless you!!

  4. Dox Mom says

    Thank you for giving me perspective. I can not express how much the podcasts and essays have helped me. Thank you for giving so much to make Mother Realized for what it is —- the best job – the hardest job — what we were brought here to do. Love His children as He loves us!!

    • April Perry says

      I am SO glad that Power of Moms is helpful to you. Thank you so much for leaving such a sweet comment. Made my day!

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