Remembering September 11th
Like all of us, I remember very well where I was on September 11th, because just two weeks before I had sadly flown back home to San Francisco when my 87-year old father suddenly passed away in his sleep. I was still there managing all the details after the funeral and trying my best to comfort my sweet mother, who after 60 years of marriage missed him terribly–even with her advancing Alzheimer’s which my father suffered from as well.
I gave Ariana, my mother’s wonderful live-in caregiver, a much-deserved break and found myself once again the hands-on caregiver, as I had been for both parents earlier on–which compelled me to give up my television career to write my first book, Elder Rage.
To cheer us up a bit, I decided to throw my mother a birthday party the following weekend. I was up late at night working on the arrangements and decorations, only to be awakened at the crack of dawn by a call from my dearest friend yelling for me to turn on the TV. "The United States is under attack!"
My mother was already awake and wondering what was wrong, as I rushed to turn on CNN for us. We watched in stunned amazement all day and barely missed a minute through the week, hugging, crying, and passing the Kleenex back and forth. Often she’d sigh with such heavy heart, so I was glad that I was still there with her when it happened–for her, and for me.
Then on Saturday I said, "We’re going to have a nice day tomorrow Mom. Everyone is coming to celebrate your 82nd birthday." She put her head down and sadly said, "No, no one will be coming here for me."
"Oh yes they will! Everyone said they will be here and we’re going to have a nice day. This has been a hard week for us all and we need a break. Gee, why do you think no one will come? Everyone loves you Mom."
"Well… because… (as she started to cry) everyone we know was killed in that horrible explosion."
My heart shattered like glass for my mother, as I realized that little children, as well as those with dementia, shouldn’t be watching the horrors in the world. I tried to explain it again and again, but she just didn’t get it and was confused. I kicked myself for letting her watch it–what in the world was I thinking? My gosh, my poor mother had been suffering for days thinking all the friends and family she had left had been killed in the Twin Towers.
I went in the bathroom and just sobbed my heart out–again–for all the victims of 9/11, for the world, and for the victims of dementia. Finally, I regained my composure and experienced an even greater resolve to become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Alzheimer’s and eldercare awareness and reform. My life’s purpose, passion, and mission to make a difference would be my legacy. Prevention, treatment and a cure just has to be found to help the nearly 5 million Americans who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the huge number of victims coming, and the enormous multi-millions of friends and family who for years and years suffer the heart-break of watching the gradual loss of the person they loved.
Then on Sunday, as I was getting Mom ready for her party (anxious for her to see her loved ones alive), as we sat on the sofa and I put on her favorite red lipstick, she pulled me close. "I… I miss my mother," her quivering lips whispered softly. I nodded and wiped her tears (trying to hold back my own) and as I laid my weary head on her lap so she could rub my back the way she always used to do, I thought, "I know, I miss mine too–so much."
I remember a profound feeling of sorrow and loss, with the overwhelming realization that our precious world was never going to be the same after September 11th — and neither would I.
You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at ElderRage.com.
Published On: September 11, 2006