The Mom Photo Essay Project On Instagram: Nine

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It's not often that we can catch a defining moment on camera as it happens. I had my iPhone out, ready to snap this photo of my mom. I was intrigued by the image of her looking out of the window as there was something metaphoric about it: an elderly woman watching the world rush by. I was ready to take the snapshot, and just as I pressed the button, mom asked: "Where are we?" It seems a reasonable question for someone riding in the passenger seat, especially if you've not been paying attention to the road. I know that I've had moments as a passenger where I've momentarily lost track of where we were because I'd been busy talking, or was lost in thought. But, at this moment, with my mom asking the question, it was the first serious sign of memory loss: the photo is taken as we are driving by our next-door neighbor's house, getting ready to turn into the driveway of the house my mom has lived in since 1960. As I've watched my mom age, as I've journeyed with her through her 70s and 80s, I've noticed the usual memory lapses, the occasional misused word, the forgotten recent event. But this moment had heartbreaking implications. This photo was taken two years ago this month. For about 18 of the past 24 months, the memory loss slowly progressed — still not really noticeable, especially if you aren't around her 24/7. But for Julian and I, who are here everyday, we saw the slow change. And, in the past six months, the change has been rapid — Alzheimer's is the doctor's opinion. Mom, like many other people before her, has resisted the diagnosis, thinking we're trying to make her think she's crazy. But, in the early-to-moderate stages, when a person still knows who they are, still recognizes most things, still remembers things, the impulse to prove there's nothing wrong is very strong. Understandably so. I've not wanted to share the news, as I know it isn't something she is willing to talk about. And, for those who know us, I ask that you don't talk to her about it. But, I feel it's important to share as it becomes more important to be sure to say the things to her you've always meant to say, while she still has time to appreciate the words. #aging #elderlyparent

A post shared by John Francis Nooney (@john_francis_nooney) on

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