Autumn’s Rain

By Lola Di Giulio De Maci

Autumn’s Rain

We had a plan. My sister would be responsible for balancing the checkbook and paying the bills. My brother would do the grocery shopping and run errands. I would take Mom to her doctors’ appointments and pick up her prescriptions. Since Mom loved her apartment at the senior center and had lived there for several years, we would take care of her in the comfort of her own home. It was important for us to keep Mom in the only house she remembered.

My sister would be there on Tuesday and Friday. My brother on Wednesday and Saturday. I would be there Monday and Thursday. Sunday was family day.

Our mother had Alzheimer’s.

She was a good mother. She supported us in our fantasies and encouraged us in our dreams. She sat at our sides as we did our homework and was there at our bedside when we were ill. Mom was our heartbeat and our rock, allowing us to grow into the persons we were meant to be.

Looking back, I don’t remember a day when I came home from school when Mom wasn’t there waiting for me. The kitchen was always filled with the delicious aroma of something cooking on the stove or something baking in the oven. I looked forward to the days the house smelled of apples and cinnamon. Then I knew there would be cinnamon pinwheels made out of leftover pie dough. One of my favorites.

Sunday dinners were always very special. Homemade pasta graced the table in a bowl big enough to feed an army. Everything else was homemade also: the sauce, the bread, the sausage, even the wine (that was Dad’s specialty). Family day.

Mom used to remember everything. If you wanted to know anything about anything, just ask Mom.

“Remember, Mom, when we couldn’t find Grandpa at the train station and…”

“…and he was already on the train,” Mom chimed in, laughing, recalling her father’s wanderlust. “He loved to travel. He was always the first one on-board.”

And then one day, Mom couldn’t remember where the bathroom was. Or if she had eaten breakfast. Or that we were there with her when we stepped out of the room for a moment. That brazen Alzheimer’s thief was shamelessly tiptoeing into her life and robbing her of her memory.

In happier times, when I would drop in to visit Mom, she always had a fresh pot of coffee brewing on the stove. I would fill her big brown mug with the word “Mom” etched on it in bold, curvy letters, and then get myself the one with the brightly-colored Christmas tree painted on it. No matter what time of the year it was, I loved the feeling of Christmas in my hands. It seemed to offer so much promise.

But now it was my turn to make the coffee. Sipping our coffee in our favorite mugs, we welcomed that time together. Sometimes we talked; sometimes we didn’t. Occasionally Mom would say something, and then a few minutes later she would say it again. And then again. I would hold my promise cup a little tighter in my hands.

Mom’s last few years were filled with confusion and anxiety. In addition to my brother, sisters and me, Mom had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Some of us she knew by name; some, she didn’t. That Alzheimer’s thief didn’t care if she had children or not. He robbed her of her memory, her family…and her dignity.

At the end, no matter how much we encouraged her, supported her, loved her, she simply gave up.

When the time came, a soft, September rain fell over the earth, shading the windows of her hospital room with a silver shawl. My brother, sister and I were at her bedside. Silently saying our good-byes, our tears echoed the rhythm of the raindrops on the windowsill. Soon this gentle, autumn rain gave way to one of the most beautiful rainbows I had ever seen. Caught up in its beauty, we knew Mom had made the journey to heaven. She had gone home.

There are times today when I sit at my own kitchen table, sipping my coffee from the big, brown mug with the word “Mom” etched on it in bold, curvy letters. I welcome its comfort and the memories of my mother like she used to be – well, vibrant, alive. And I hold my promise cup a little tighter, truly grateful for the time I had with my mother…truly cherishing one memory at a time.

About this writer

  • Lola Di Giulio De MaciLola Di Giulio De Maci is a retired teacher whose stories have appeared in several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Los Angeles Times (Kid’s Reading Room). She enjoys handwritten notes/letters, her children, and new beginnings. She writes from her loft overlooking the San Bernardino Mountains. 

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4 Responses to “Autumn’s Rain”

  1. Lola, you and I share CS credits. I’m in 24 CS books. Your story made me choke back a tear, as I know the robber personally and felt the love you had for your mom.

  2. Lola Di Giulio De Maci says:

    Linda, Thank you. Yes, we share a common publisher, and a personal history with this relentless disease. My middle name is Di Giulio, my birth name — with a “G” — in honor of my family.

  3. Rose Ann says:

    Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease for the patient and devastating for the family. You’ve found the way to remember and celebrate your “real” mom as she exists in your heart.

  4. Lola Di Giulio De Maci says:

    Thank you, Rose Ann, for helping me realize once again how much I loved my mother and always will.

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