Mom in her bedroom: Mom’s caregiver Krystyna would put a towel on Mom’s head after her shower as she did a few other chores, then she’d blow dry her hair.
How Mom must have felt: I took this photo in the park across the street from our house where there’s a Little League field. It struck me that this is how Mom must have felt …
Looking in: We had a deck with sliding glass doors. This is what it must have felt like for Mom, trapped behind glass, on the outside looking in.
After a shower: Mom had been through so much – losing her right breast to cancer then losing her mind to Alzheimer’s.
Mom and her stuffed animals: Mom liked holding stuffed animals. I imagine they gave her comfort in the same way dolls do for a child.
Family vacation: Growing up, our family would take an annual trip to Bermuda. We’d love to go out to dinner. Here we’re posing with two of our waiters. This photo was among many in Mom’s bathroom.
Out for a walk: Several times a day, Krystyna would take Mom for walks around the neighborhood.
A helping hand: Mom’s caregiver Krystyna was with us for 5 ½ years. Her family was in Poland, and she’d send money back to them. Krystyna became as close as family to us and would often call John and me son and daughter.
Being there: My brother was with me and Mom through it all. He would always come visit and sit with Mom for hours, a constant loving presence.
Tracking the progression: Mom would go to Columbia Presbyterian in NYC every 6 months where doctors tracked the disease’s progression. My friend Kristin told me about the program after her dad was diagnosed. After Mom died, we donated her brain to the hospital to provide greater insight into the disease.
At the doctor’s office: Waiting for our appointment.
Impromptu garden party: One Saturday, my brother and his then girlfriend Katie came over. Katie and I liked to cook, and I suggested we whip up some salads and have a party out in the yard. We moved a table out there, put a tablecloth on it and had a wonderful time.
Mom under her portrait: My dad’s friend Ralph Boult painted a portrait of Mom that hung in the living room in our home.
Caregiver training the caregiver: Jackie (right) showed Helena (left) how to walk Mom with the walker as one caregiver trained the next.
We didn’t know this would happen: Out of the blue, Mom developed bedsores. John and I were devastated and so out of our league. We brought Mom to the doctor, who cleaned them and gave us instructions on woundcare. We needed to turn her every three hours to prevent them.
Woundcare: The doctor gave Mom antibiotics to heal. We needed to change her bandages often, and a visiting nurse was assigned to us to help.
Son becomes nurse: John on nurse duty as Helena, our caregiver, held Mom.
The night shift: John and I took turns waking every three hours to turn Mom as it had become 24/7 care.
Comfort: We moved her regular bed out of her room and rented a hospital bed for greater safety.
Going to the nursing home: Things had progressed to a point that we had to accept that we could no longer care for Mom at home. We rented a wheelchair, and John and I drove Mom to the nursing home together.
Moving out: Mom’s bedroom post move.
Mom, a few days left: Mom was in the nursing home about 6 months. This photo was taken a few days before she died.
The nurse on duty when Mom died: Waynne let me sleep in Mom’s bed that night. It was against the rules, but she knew the end was imminent. She brought in a tray of breakfast for me, too. I will never forget those kind gestures.
Surreal: This doesn’t even look like Mom.
In memory of: A collection of photos at Mom’s wake.
Burial: The burial was a private ceremony consisting of my brother, me, our Aunt Arlene, and my father’s priest friend Fr. Tom who led the prayers.
Remembering Mom: I shot in black and white before I moved to color several years in. Here is Mom in the early days. I am so grateful to have been a witness to my journey with her.