alt=a person wearing graduation cap & gown holds up a hand to block their face as someone tries to take a picture.

Memories, Mental Health, and Miscommunication Part 1: My Daughter's Graduation

My roles as Mom to twenty-somethings, wife going on thirty-something years, and daughter for fifty-something years often has me caught squarely in a no-win territory. I try to navigate motherhood, marriage, and helping my mom as her memory becomes more and more elusive with grace and fairness and wisdom (ha). I try to take everyone’s needs into consideration. Sometimes that is really hard to do.

Caregiving goes beyond just my mom

My daughter has a lot of anxiety issues. My son does, too, They are in their twenties, and it seems pretty par for the course. What twenty-something isn’t anxiety-ridden? They are now finished with school, launching out into the world - a pandemic-ravaged world - and are trying to figure out jobs, significant others, living situations, health insurance, all the big things of life. No wonder they are anxious!

My daughter graduated a semester early from an Ivy League school, and we have been so very proud of her. My parents had opened a college fund for both my kids, which kept them from a mountain of student debt. I helped her edit her papers. Her dad helped with her car and late-night runs to her school when she was having a meltdown. Her brother loaned her his external hard drive. It was a group effort. We all supported her and each other. It’s what we do.

No trips for my mom with Alzheimer's

Graduations across the country have been canceled or moved to a virtual ceremony. My daughter just received word that her school was having a spring commencement after all, but the family wasn’t allowed to attend. She had called to talk to me while she was out walking. She thought we could still make the five-hour drive and maybe go to dinner and still help her move out of her apartment. She was adamant that she didn’t want any pictures taken. She is extremely self-conscious and HATES looking at pictures of herself. It puts her in a really, really bad place.

We can’t go to the ceremony. It’s five hours away. We can’t take pictures! Why risk bringing her grandmother out on a road trip, even if she is fully vaccinated, if we can’t participate at all?! I was picturing my daughter with her friends and their families taking pictures and us not being allowed to!

My mom is losing her memory. She can’t always remember the name of my daughter’s school, even with the pneumonic device we came up with. She may not always remember my daughter! I want to be able to show my mom pictures of the two of them together with her granddaughter in her red cap and gown, graduating with honors. It was too much.

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