The Day I’ve Been Dreading?

From the moment Mum was given the chilling diagnosis, I knew this day would come. That knowledge hasn’t made the experience any less painful though. Today, for the first time, I really don’t think Mum knew who I was. I’ve been reliving this morning’s visit in the hours since I left and I know that relatives of those with dementia can be guilty of analysing time spent with that loved one too much. We look too readily for signs, initially positive but increasingly negative. And I know I mustn’t read too much into today. It might be that Mum was just having an off day or perhaps she was especially tired. But the fact remains that there was barely a flicker of recognition when I arrived and the hesitant smile might just have been a response to my beaming grin. (That can be enough to put off even the most resilient). Mum smiled because I was smiling at her and therefore she thought she must know me.

There was no move to get out of her seat and when I suggested we find a quiet spot to chat, her response was: “If you want to.” Mum has always insisted on introducing me to the staff but not on my last two visits. If anything, she seemed a little unsure why she was following this man into another sitting room. 

I’d taken a magazine with me – Worcestershire Life – and as we made our way through the pages of luxury mansions for sale, I suggested we might buy that one for her because it had a fully-equipped gym (I think her last visit to a gyn was probably in the year she left school) or that one because it boasted a recording studio. She laughed and immediately wandered off, her attention seized by another resident. My departure, after about twenty minutes, was – if I’m honest – a relief to both of us. That is a phrase I’d hoped I’d never write.

As I say, I might have misread the signs and next time, she might take my arm and say, with what i like to interpret as a degree of pride: “This is my son.” I hope so with all my heart. I do wonder, though, whether I’ve heard those words for the last time.



About duncancajones

I am a coach and mentor, a charity trustee and a journalist. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.
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5 Responses to The Day I’ve Been Dreading?

  1. Julia says:

    Hi, I read about your blog and your mum yesterday because I have just become a research volunteer with Alzheimer’s Society in London. Although I am a Psychology student and very interested in the cause, I don’t have any first-hand experience with dementia myself and I am going to follow your blog to learn more about it! I am also thinking about starting a little aid campaign of my own once I am back in Germany (where I live and study) – I might even start a blog to support my venture. I am not a runner like you but I hope to raise some money, deliver talks etc. The blog is going to be German but if I go through with it, I’d love to link your blog so that my German friends and other readers can find out more about dementia. It might take some time for me to organize my project – I would like to contact you again in the future and ask your permission to advertise your blog. Right now, I am blogging about my time in London and my internship with AS ( .
    Kind regards and only the best wishes for you and your family,

    • Hi Julia,

      Thanks for your very kind words. My blog has helped me to make sense of what my Mum and the family are going through and I’m very pleased that others might find it helpful and interesting as well.
      It would be lovely to keep in touch. One of the benefits, if I can use that word, of blogging is that I’m getting to know people online with similar experiences of or interest in dementia.
      Please feel free to link to my blog and hank you again for your interest.

      Kind regards and the very best of luck with the Alzheimer’s Society and when you return to Germany.


      • Julia says:

        Hello Duncan,
        thank you for your kind answer – I’d love to stay in touch. Your blog is extremly well written (as it is to be expected, I guess) and if you haven’t read it just yet, I highly recommend “Still Alice” to you, as it reminds me of your experiences and style. I wanted to let you know that is was actually your article that inspired me to think about starting my own campaign in the first place. Thanks to that, I will be interviewed by Volunteer Voice next week. Although we don’t know each other, I felt I had to let you know that your example had an impact on me and that in turn, I might make a difference as well. I am sure your mother would be very proud of you.

        Only the best of wishes for you and what you are doing for her,

  2. Gill says:

    As my mum’s vocabulary (which once was so important to her) diminishes I wonder each time she says something meaningful whether that will be the last time and I need to devour every word just in case. Each time she signs a card for our birthdays we save it now in case its the last one and the last time she writes ‘with all our love’. The small things mean the most now and it’s comforting to read your blog and know others are facing the same dilemmas with the same trepidation. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your kind words Gill. Sadly, Mum has gone past the stage of meaningful words but I think I know exactly what you mean. Mum was always very concerned that my sister and I “spoke properly” and developed a healthy vocabulary. I’m so grateful for that.
      Please stay in touch. I find the support and encouragement I receive from the online community is priceless.
      Kind regards,

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