Zia….that’s Italian for Aunty. But you have been so much more to me than just an Aunty. You were always there for me to help, guide and advise from the moment I was born. You helped to look after me, to bring me up and you were a constant part of my life. You were there when I learnt to walk, talk, look after myself and there on my first day at school, there when I was the main speaker in the Harvest Festival service when I was at Infant School, there when I fell over and cried, and there for me through all the big milestones I had in life. You were there to comfort me, to share my achievements with me and all my disappointments (and there have been more of those over the years than achievements).
So it is with a devastated and very heavy heart that I have to accept what is coming. I love you so, so much, and I can’t imagine my life without you in it. But you don’t know me anymore. You don’t remember me and I don’t know if you remember any of the good times we shared together.
Do you remember when I took you to see Luciano Pavarotti live in concert at the NEC in 1992? I got my love of opera from you.
Do you remember all the Shakespeare plays we went to in Stratford, and the time when we saw “Hamlet” with a then unknown actor called Patrick Stewart? Little did we know he would go on to be a world famous actor in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and play Xavier in the “X-Men” films.
Do you remember when we went to see Charlton Heston in the play “Love Letters” that he wrote with his wife at Malvern Theatres, and we actually met him after the play and shook his hand? He is my all-time favourite actor, thanks to you.
Do you remember all the times we went to the cinema together, right back as far as 1984 when you took me to see “Ghostbusters”, right up to 2006 when we went to see the film “Rocky Balboa”? That was the last time we went to the cinema together. After that you didn’t want to leave the house very much, you wanted to be close to your dog, and you felt safe in your own home.
Do you remember how you got me into watching “Dallas”, “Dynasty” and “Falcon Crest”? To this day I still love watching those shows, especially Dallas. We were together when it was revealed to the world “Who Shot JR” in 1980, and I was only 8 years old. We did a double take when we realised it was Kristen, Sue Ellen’s sister.
Do you remember telling me that getting married to Russell on the day we got married was “the best thing I had ever done”? You looked so happy on our wedding day, April 6th 2013.
The sad thing is, I don’t think you remember any of those things any more. You have succumbed to the cruellest disease I have ever known, Alzheimers/dementia. There is no cure, there is no treatment, and there is only ONE outcome, which for me doesn’t bear thinking about, but as hard as it is, I have to accept that there is only one outcome. You have completely gone, only your body, such as it is, remains. The NHS are doing the best they can to look after you, but there are times that you do not cooperate. I wish you could see that they are only trying to help you. They only want what’s best for you, and as much as I know how much you love your home, it just isn’t safe for you to be in it any more. Right now as I write this letter to you, you are in hospital, and the team there are trying to find somewhere more specialised for you to go and live so you can be properly looked after. I know a lot of the things you’ve said and done aren’t you. I know that you have lashed out at your nearest and dearest and if you weren’t affected so much by Alzheimers you would be absolutely horrified. One by one you have forgotten us all, even your little doggie who you love and cherish so much. Don’t worry, he is being well looked after and spoilt by my parents, your brother and sister in law. We are all beside ourselves with so much worry about you. We wish we could wave a magic wand and make the Alzheimers you have go away. We wish you were the person you once was. We wish this horrible, devastating, cruel disease just didn’t exist.
You have given me so much in my life, I know I was the child you never had. You helped to look after lots of children in your lifetime – me, my Dad who you brought up from the age of 10, your niece Maria and your nephew Tony, your friend Tricia’s two daughters Amy and Laura – yet you were never blessed with any of your own children. But you were more of a mother to all of us than some so-called “mothers” out there.
There is nothing I can do for you now, nothing I can give you to help, nothing I can say that will make this cruel disease you have go away. But when the time comes, I am going to give you something. Something that is more precious to me than anything I have ever had in my life.
Frankie has been resting in his room with me and his Daddy since the day after his funeral which took place on Thursday 5th December 2013. I knew and know I have to lay him to rest, but to do it just hasn’t felt right to me. I talked about having interned with his Great Grandad Antonio, but I just couldn’t let him go. But now I know I have to let him go, just as I have to let you go when the time comes. So when the time DOES come, Frankie will be laid to rest with you to keep you company. So when you do make the journey up to heaven, you won’t be alone. Frankie will be waiting for you, along with your beloved husband Frank and everyone else we have lost and who we loved.
I love you so very, very much and I know that when the time comes you will look after each other until it is my time to come and join you. I don’t want your time to come any time soon, and I am dreading getting “that” call and hearing “that” news. I want you to live forever.
But I know that is not possible.
With all my love now, always and forever.