The neighbors call my mother the Flower Lady.
Her front yard is practically a canopy of plant-life, while her backyard is a dense trail festooned with prickly bushes, pastel flowers, and a pond brimming with ornate goldfish.
At least, all that was true about a year ago.
Now, the front yard droops with unkempt vines.
The backyard trail is now smothered by wild, uncut after-growth; the goldfish long dead.
There’s a strangeness here not from the lack of upkeep, but from my mother’s unwillingness to tend to the joys of plant (and fish) life that only she could enjoy.
All of that upkeep takes a lot of energy, anyway.
Tell someone something amazing you just remembered. Tell it to this person with pure alacrity, your blood pressure and heart rate up from the excitement. Energy runs afflux in a fast stream throughout your body. After this revelation, converse on other things with this person, your body calming itself to homeostasis.
After a few minutes, repeat this whole process again and again.
Do this for a half hour and your body will grow weary — energy levels depleted.
This is where my mother’s energy has gone to. And why she no longer desire the title of Flower Lady.
I never thought of Alzheimer’s as a slow life-sucking vampire, but then I’ve never seen it firsthand until now.
As I prepare a journey of support and care for my mother’s next stage of life, I’m reminded of how this Flower Lady had created and maintained a landscape of beauty around her house for many years. And at this point, no matter how much anyone can take over her labors of love dwindling outside, her life — like her yard — will never be the same.
Nor will mine.