Celia Pomerantz is an only child. She also has a background in marketing. So when it became clear that her mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and that Pomerantz would need to take charge of her care, Pomerantz designed a campaign for herself. Entitled “Safety and Happiness,” it became the framework for every decision she needed to make regarding her mother.
In her book Alzheimer’s: A Mother Daughter Journey, Pomerantz details her mother’s decline over her final four years. There is pathos; there is increasing fraility; there are multiple relocations. And there are laugh-out-loud moments. (As Pomerantz reflects, “When you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s…it helps to keep your sense of humor.”)
The book is a lovely tribute to her mother, complete with photos tracing her arc from her youth through her demise. But most powerfully, it is an excellent, practical blueprint of how Pomerantz approached her caregiving task—and how that approach affected her.
“I had to put aside the feelings of my guilt and overlook her vocalized objections, because neither of those were a reaction to the true needs of the situation, only to the emotions we were both feeling from our respective points of view.”
Then later, “We were in the same physical space, but our perception was vastly different.” By then the time had come to change the framework from “Safety and Happiness” to “Peace and Simplicity"—and Pomerantz wrestles with the knowledge that her mother had given her life, but she, Pomerantz was doing everything she could to give her mother death.
“I am my mother’s caregiver…I hold her hand in silence and pray:
This is not living. Please God take her. Please God take her while she still feels loved by me…Take her while she still has the facial muscles to smile…Take her while she still has moments of joy. Take her, please.”
In the end, God answers that prayer. But in a beautiful meditation on mother-daughter connections, Pomerantz writes, “I miss my mother, but her lessons are always with me…when I dance and enjoy a meal with my family and friends, I am visiting with my mother because she lives in my heart.”