Things just aren't what they used to be. How many times have we heard that phrase or even said it ourselves? The truth is, many things are NOT what they used to be and they never will be the same again. This morning as I baked cookies, finished laundry, and washed dishes, I thought about a time when my mom used to do those things, and though she put me to work at an early age, I was reflecting on the times she was the one baking, folding laundry, and working in her kitchen. I remember feeling secure and thinking Mom would always be there for my siblings and me. It's now difficult to comprehend that I've become HER mother. This downward spiral was swift - or perhaps it only seemed to happen quickly. I know this wretched disease called Alzheimer's has been lurking for a long time, but as her daughters, my sisters and I often told ourselves Mom was just extremely forgetful. Her doctors continued to call it "dementia", though we suspected it had progressed. Right now, Mom couldn't follow a recipe even if her life depended upon it. She has no idea how to clean her clothes and she is no longer in her home or has a kitchen in which to work. I've been trying to take one day at a time and hadn't felt the need to mourn the loss of my mother's ability to function as my mom - until today. Baking cookies might have been the trigger. It's something she liked doing and an activity she and I often did together. The Lamplight Inn (assisted living facility) has a nice kitchen where we could bake if we chose to, but Mom isn't able to do such things at this point, and she may never do those things again. The reality is, she needs to be prompted and helped to shower, dress, and brush her teeth. Yesterday, I taped signs to her bathroom walls reminding her to do such things. When I visited, she was in the diningroom anticipating dinner, but in her room I found her clothes basket filled with home-going items: clean clothes, her Bible, a picture from the wall, a box of tissue, her comb and brush, some magazines, and a clean gown. She had other pictures my sister had brought her from "home" stacked neatly on her table and on top was her favorite puzzle, a picture of red cardinals. She was definitely planning to go somewhere. I quietly put all the things back into their places and began printing her name on all the labels of her garments. Somehow, that seemed so final. It's our plan that Mom reside at Lamplight for the rest of her days and we accept that, but it became very real yesterday. Things just aren't what they used to be and they will never be the same again.