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When I was growing up, my mother’s raisin cookies were a family favourite and making them was a regular Saturday afternoon mother-daughter event.


Instead of adding whole raisins to the butterscotch-flavoured dough, my mother used an old-fashioned meat grinder to mince the fruit. I would turn the handle on the grinder as she fed raisins into the mouth of the machine.  We would take turns stirring the thick batter and sing Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man, as we patted the dough into a log.  When the cookies were in the oven, we would sit at the kitchen table and sip milky tea while we waited for the timer to chime.



Elizabeth Murray is the author of Holding on to Mamie:  My Mother, Dementia and Me







I was pregnant when I first read I’ll Love You Forever, Robert Munsch’s book about the unconditional love between a mother and her son. I didn’t yet appreciate the bond I would have with my own child but the story brought me to tears as I thought about my relationship with my mother.  I vowed that I would always care for her just as she had cared for me.

I couldn’t have imagined what would happen twelve years later.

To


Elizabeth Murray is the author of Holding on to Mamie: My Mother, Dementia and Me.




When my mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2004, I was woefully unprepared.  I thought dementia was a gentle disease, a gradual memory loss and gentle fading away.  My mother’s anger and paranoia took me by surprise.  I was bewildered and ashamed when her hostility became directed almost exclusively towards me. Intellectually I knew that her disease was to blame but emotionally I found it very difficult to accept.


Initially, I thought that I could change her attitude. I tried to cajole her into a better mood or use logic to explain why her accusations didn’t make sense. Sometimes my efforts erupted into arguments that left both of us in tears and made me wonder if I really was the terrible daughter my mother described.


It wasn’t until after she passed away that I began to talk about my mother’s battle with dementia and the impact her illness had on our relationship. Sharing that information gave me a huge sense of relief.  I realized that I had isolated myself from people who could have provided me with much needed support and I wished that I had been open about my experience much sooner.


 I hope that telling my story now will help raise awareness about dementia and reduce some of the stigma that still surrounds the disease. 


Thank you to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario for encouraging me to blog about my experience. Many of the posts that follow first appear on their blog.