This Mother’s Day, Vicki shares fond memories of her mum, Margaret, who had vascular dementia. Following Margaret's passing in 2019, Vicki plans to take part in Memory Walk this year to raise vital funds for people affected by dementia.
My mum, Margaret, was a lovely, kind, and caring person. She was one of those people that was 'designed' to be a mum - she always put her family first.
Mum loved nothing more than looking after myself and my older sister, Sally. She also loved a party - Mum always had fun and enjoyed herself.
I don't remember ever hearing her shout (and I know I definitely gave her reasons to when I was younger!) and she never swore either - she was 'from the old school' as it were.
Celebrating Mother's Day as a family
When we were younger we used to do things for her on Mother's Day, like most kids do, with the help of our dad, Brian, of course, like make her breakfast and a cup of tea.
Mother's Day nearly always fell around the time of her birthday too - 15 March - so it was always nice to have a double celebration.
However, when we got older we always made sure she had nice gifts like flowers, chocolates, perfume and if it was possible, we always made the trip to visit her on Mother's Day, too.
I wouldn't say we did anything special as we would do things throughout the year that were special, like shopping trips, afternoon teas, and meals out. These were not just because she was my mum but also as a way of thanking her for everything she did for us because, without her, we would have definitely struggled.
Depression and dementia symptoms
Mum had struggled with periods of depression throughout her life.
She had post-natal depression and what we suspect was seasonal affective disorder (SAD) when she was younger.
When Mum became quieter and more introverted in her late 70s, we were naturally concerned but thought she was struggling with her mental health.
While her depression had improved since she retired, we found that her early signs of dementia mirrored her symptoms of depression.
Mum's dementia diagnosis
Sadly, Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2015.
It was only after she took a horrible fall down the stairs, which seemed to act as a catalyst for her decline, that she received her diagnosis.
As Mum's dementia progressed, she became more introverted and spoke very little.
Mum retreated into herself, almost as if she reverted to her childhood ways.
Nonetheless, she occasionally seemed very sharp for a moment, and I will never forget how she made a joke about my relationship with my daughter, having been just like ours, out of seemingly nowhere, that made us all roar with laughter.
Making decisions about moving into care
My dad became her full-time caregiver. He is the sort of person that does not complain and gets on with things. Nonetheless, my sister and I, could see he was losing weight.
Being in his 80s, Dad was struggling with the physical aspects of caring for Mum. We decided to move her in to a care home.
For us, moving Mum into a care home was a heart-breaking decision. But it is one that enabled Dad to spend the quality time with her that was impossible when he was caring for her around the clock.
Dad visited Mum every day and my sister was able to go regularly because she lived and worked nearby.
We always made sure we went to see her on Mother's Day and would take flowers or possibly a nice picture for her room. If we could, we ensured that we were all there for her at the same time.
It was more difficult to buy gifts for her then as she didn't eat much and didn't really wear perfume anymore but we always ensured she had something to show her just what a wonderful Mum she really was.
Walking in memory
Mum passed away in July 2019. For Dad, as for the whole family, her death has left a massive void in his life. For the first time, he had a lot of time on his hands, without knowing what to do with it, and I think the whole experience was often a very lonely one for him.
This year, I will be taking part in Memory Walk with my 13-year-old daughter, Eden. Not only for my mum, but also for my lovely sister, Sally, who passed away unexpectedly in January 2020.
While the official Memory Walk date is the weekend of 20-21 March 2021, we have decided to do our virtual walk a week early on Mother’s Day.
14 March 2021 would have also been Mum and Dad's 57th wedding anniversary, which is the day before Mum's birthday, so it feels like the ideal time to do this for her.
Remember your loved ones at Memory Walk
Unite with us this month and take part in your own Memory Walk. Whether it's on your own or with your household, you will help make a difference for people affected by dementia who need it most.