Tannis #ilivewithdementia

When Mom was alive I’d visit her regularly. She passed away in June 2018. Not having her here is a lot different and more difficult. Not being able to go see and talk to her has been a big adjustment.

Before, I’d open up and tell her about my day. Because she couldn’t really talk to me, I’d give her updates on my life and share news about being pregnant or about the babies. She’d be my go-to person.  Even though she couldn’t communicate, in my eyes she was still the mom I always went to. It’s hard to put into words… it was a feeling that I hadn’t fully lost her.

Now, I go to the cemetery and share my thoughts with her. But it’s not the same as having her in front of me. I bring my girls with me. I have a newborn, Adria; Kiena, 2 ½ years old; and Talaina, 4 ½ years old. We go often, even though they’re not so patient. I think it’s important they know who she is and that she’s not forgotten. Sometimes I’m vulnerable and I let my tears flow; I think it’s important for my kids to understand the grief I’m feeling.

I show the kids pictures of their grandma, whom they called GMAW. Talaina used to sit on her wheelchair with her and they’d eat their lunches together. I’d be feeding my mother and my daughter at the same time. We have pictures of that. I share stories and memories of GMAW with my daughters; I tell them about her favorite movies, songs, sayings and the similarities that they share. She was an important role model, and I want them to know that.

Mom’s values set the bar pretty high. Mom could do things seamlessly. She was talented, caring and compassionate. I am reminded of the person she was each day and I do my best to emulate her qualities for my three little girls. Mom may have left us, but she will always be in my heart and I will hold on to all of my special memories of her.

Alzheimer’s disease has made a big impact on me and my life. It’s important to me to continue to volunteer for the Alzheimer Society and to participate in their annual Walk with my family in memory of Mom.


  • Think about starting your own memory book so you can record as many memories and pictures as possible. It will help your children when they have questions later in life and are looking for answers.
  • Know that experiencing dementia will make your family stronger. You depend on each other to get through every stage.
  • Because the pandemic means restricted visiting, think about other ways to connect and show the person that they are not forgotten. Send little gifts to those who are alone so they feel the love.
  • Exercise your brain by challenging yourself, whether it be by puzzles or learning new skills.

Click here to return to the Alzheimer’s Awareness Month page.