When Mom Forgot Me

“Where do you live?” she asked. Wind whipped her white curls into a crown around her head against a blur of golden wheat fields as we sailed along the dirt road. 

I glanced her way. She sat slightly hunched in the passenger seat. We’d been catching up while I drove. Two long years had passed. I returned home to a widowed mom, visibly aged and mourning the loss of a husband and father we both loved. 

“She gets confused sometimes,” my brothers told me. 

Mom always got confused. That was just mom. 

“What was I getting?” she’d wonder as she walked from room to room. 

“What was I saying?” she’d stop midstream.

“Why did I call you?” she’d ask when we stood before her. 

That was mom. Slightly distracted, but oh so perfect. Softly plump, with a contagious laugh. She listened intently and asked questions with such engagement as if nothing mattered more than the child in front of her. Not even the burning chicken on the stove. 

“This is different,” they warned. 

Mourning for dad had never seemed complete overseas. I was too detached from its reality, and perhaps she needed me in some way too, I thought dismissing their words. 

I felt incomplete without that connection of loss shared with her. I needed to feel her warmth and sweetness. 

Now I was home again, and she was next to me as I drove through the Kansas flatlands. We laughed and talked until I felt a change come over her. She became quiet and glanced at me sideways.  

“Where do you live?” she asked.

I laughed a little, but an uncomfortable twist came inside my stomach. She’s got it on the tip of her tongue, I thought. 

“Italy, Mom.”

“Oh Italy!” delight filled her demeanor. With a huge smile she turned toward me. “I have a daughter who lives there. Do you know her?”

 “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10 NKJV

The verse began a sing-song in my head. “When my father and my mother forsake me…When my father and my mother forsake…when my father and my mother…”

I resolutely kept my eyes ahead with my hands on the wheel, willing the question to go away.  

“Do you know her?” she prodded.

“When my father and my mother forsake me…” 

Mother’s Day is a day designated to honor the one who bore us. It brings pain to some. It renews gratefulness and joy for others. It acknowledges sacrifices and hard work. For those of us who have precious memories, a Mom’s love is just a droplet in the ocean of God’s love. For those on this day who wish for a different backstory, God’s care will still be triumphant.

Mom waited, staring my way, not knowing me. With all my heart I wished her to stop, pretend she hadn’t asked it and for the conversation to end. I wanted to get back to our old farmhouse, find my husband and cry into his broad chest. 

“When my father and my mother forsake me…” 

“My daughter Sylvia,” her voice became petulant, like a child’s plea. “She lives there too.” 

Desperate to spare her, but knowing I couldn’t ignore the question any longer, I turned my face from the road and looked at those hazel eyes, clouded, lost and confused. 

“…Then the Lord will take care of me.”

“Mom, I’m Sylvia.”

I saw the sudden recognition, hurt and pain. I saw how devastating it was for a mom to forget. And I knew that however deep a mother or her child’s anguish, God’s eternal care and remembrance far exceeds this parental shadow of His love. 

“…Then the Lord will take care of me.”

There may come a day when the scene is repeated. When I will forget. And if that happens, may God the Father leave behind this certainty. 

God knows you. 

He sees you. 

He remembers you. 

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15 NIV

22 Replies

  1. Rebecca Powell Reply

    So touching, Sylvia, and I can relate. My sweet 98-year-old Mama went to be with Jesus last summer. This will be my first Mothers Day ever without her. She had those days of forgetfulness also, but my siblings abd I were so blessed to have many adult years with her. ❤️

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Rebecca for sharing that. I’m glad you have sweet memories and what a blessing…98 years! So much to be grateful for, isn’t there! Thanks so much for the comment!

  2. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Will always remember the day that my merme (French for grandmother) forgot who I was. My mama, her daughter, helped her through the dementia/Alzheimer’s journey; and it was so difficult yet rewarding. Mama was so afraid it would happen to her. In ways, I was grateful that Parkinson’s came first. God’s blessings my friend.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks J.D. I always love hearing the stories of others. Caregiving is definitely difficult. I missed much of the really hard stuff being overseas, but I am grateful for family members who loved and cared for my mom. Thanks so much for reading and responding!

  3. Katherine Pasour Reply

    Through your words, I could feel your pain and your mother’s. I think the love of a parent for his/her child is the closest we get to experiencing the depth of God’s love for us. Thank you for sharing this poignant message.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katherine. I appreciate your comment so much. Parents certainly do represent the depths of God’s love. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Mary Reply

    So sweet Sylvia! Brought tears to my eyes – you look like your mama💕 God bless you!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Oh my, I just love it when people say I look like my mom. I don’t see it so much, so I treasure it when someone else does! Thanks Mary, for reading and responding. Blessings to you this Mother’s Day!

      • Beth A B Menezes Reply

        Very tender discription of the mutually painful challenges of losing one to ALZ, then to it’s consequence. My last days with my Mother here on Earth were on Mother’s Day 2 hrs ago. She couldn’t recognize me but I laid beside her and we talked and talked… She could recognize my voice qnd knew it was me even if she couldn’t remember any information about my life..!!

        • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

          So sweet that you could talk and she remembered you. It’s a precious gift, but sad at the same time. Thanks Beth. I appreciate you reading and remembering with me!

  5. RJ Thesman Reply

    The exact same comment happened to me, except the location was Kansas City. “Oh Italy!” delight filled her demeanor. With a huge smile she turned toward me. “I have a daughter who lives there. Do you know her?”

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Oh my. Was it a jolt for you too? I know how it grieved mom when she realized what she’d done. It was a painful transition for her as she definitely recognized what was happening. Thanks Rebecca for reading and responding!

  6. Karen Jurgens Harrison Reply

    I can identify with your story. My mother is now 99, and I’m her caretaker. Dementia is off and on, especially at night. It’s heartbreaking, but I remember well how she has always taken such good care of me. Now our roles are reversed. I want to give her lots of grace in these days as God enables me. It’s sad. It’s hard. Your post is for me.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much for reading and I’m so glad you liked it. Dementia is a difficult road for sure, but I appreciate your desire to care for your mom as she did for you. She has lived a long life. May God give you strength and courage for her days and yours.

  7. Charleen Bader Reply

    Thank you for this post. My mom died in 2019, had dementia for several years. About 1 year before she died I realized that she didn’t know who I was anymore and it was heartbreaking. Thank you for Psalm 27:10. BTW, my maiden name is Schroeder. 😊

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Are we related?! Yes, there is a feeling difficult to describe at that sort of dementia. I am so grateful that God does not forget us. It is such a comfort. I suppose since my maiden name isn’t Schroeder, we really can’t be related, can we? But you never know!

  8. Emily Reply

    Same thing happened with my mother. My dad’s mind was clear to the end, and that has its own pain, too.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I’m sorry about your mom, but I agree, even a clear mind has its own pain. I often felt because we lived in Italy, it would have pained her more to be aware of the separation and good-byes. It certainly would have been much more difficult for me had she suffered because of my absence! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  9. Jeannie Waters Reply

    What a tender post, Sylvia. Your beautiful words remind us of how much we need God at times like you described. God’s blessings to you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Jeannie, thanks friend! I remember the blessing of a God who doesn’t forget when I think of how difficult dementia can be. Appreciate you reading it and I always love your comments!