My mother, Laura Eva Carter, was born to the late Grant Parson and Laura Eva Bowen-Parson on August 17, 1932. She was the seventh child out of nine. She only had a ninth-grade education because she had to drop out of school to help take care of her nieces and nephews. My mother sang in the church choir with her sister Lillian. She later met and married her first husband. They had two sons Roosevelt and Andrew. Mom divorced her first husband and later met and married my dad, Preston Carter, and to their union they had six more children. There were two more boys and four girls. Larry, twins (Debra and Diane), Randy, Annette, and Lisa. For a total of eight children. She made sure her children had a relationship with Christ.
Mom was a housewife and did some private duty work, too. As a child, my sister, Annette was diagnosed with a tumor in her nasal cavities, doctors told my parents that Annette would not live to be twelve years old. My mom took care of my sister until her death in 1984. After grieving my sister’s death, six years later, the love of her life Preston, died of a stroke, July 15, 1990. She continued to grieve. She had her children and grandchildren around her for support, thank GOD! She was devoted to her children. She loved to travel and take trips, going to church, and working in her flower bed. My mother was an excellent cook. My dad said her fried chicken was, “much better than Kentucky Fried Chicken.” She made her cakes from scratch. They were so good! That is why I wanted to learn to bake, so my mother taught me how.
Unfortunately, after years of back to back deaths of her brothers and sisters, then her nieces, her health started to decline. She started to suffer with memory loss. In 2009, I noticed my mom repeating questions over and over again. I asked my sisters to observe her and see if she would do the same thing with them when they talked to her on the telephone. They began to notice that too. I would come home from work, mom would be in her room looking for her medicine. She had misplaced it. Then she would get mad at me and say I took her medicine and asked me why would I do that to her. I would tell her, “I did not take your medicine, but I will help you look for it.” I would find it in her purse sometimes and other times it would be in her drawer hide behind some clothes. This happened often. Other times I would come home from work and mom would have cooked some food and the house would be full of smoke. I would let up windows to let out the smoke from the burnt pans. I became so afraid she would burn the house down. It was only God’s grace that she didn’t. I told her not to worry about cooking, from that point on, I would cook when I got home from work. I would cook every day for her and fix her plate and bring it to her.
Sometimes, she would stay up late watching TV. I would stay up with her for a while, but I had to get some rest for work. I would be so tired and sleepy, but mom would stay up later and later. I would try to stay up with her, but I was too tired, so I would have to leave her up to watch TV alone. Then, she started setting off the alarm system, by opening the door, which would wake me out of my sleep. Sometimes I couldn’t get back to sleep. I thank God I had that alarm, because she could have wondered off somewhere. These type of actions made me think that she was trying to leave. Thankfully, the alarm was so loud, I think it scared her so she stopped doing that after the third attempt.
There were other times she would get upset at me and call me names and curse me out. I was so hurt, I would cry. Sometimes, I would leave and go to my sister’s house for a while, but when I would return she would not remember any of it. I struggled with losing my mom to this disease because she looked like my mom, sounded like my mom, but the words weren’t my mom’s. I knew if my mom didn’t have this disease she would never have called me some of the names she did. It was very hurtful, but it wasn’t something my mom would normally do.
I would ask my sisters, Diane and Debra, and my niece Brittney to stay with mom when I needed a break. I would go out of town for a weekend to get some rest, so that I could come back to face the next challenge. I thank God for Diane, Debra, and Brittney for being my support. They were always there for me and my mother whenever we needed them. I know everyone won’t have a support system like I have, that is why I thank GOD for being able to work and having the understanding it takes in this situation.
I would take off work when she had doctor’s visits or had to go to ER. Sometimes, I would have to stay home from work to make sure she took her medicine. I’m thankful that my employers were understanding and caring for my mom, and willing to work with me when I needed to take off work. Being a caregiver and having to work outside the home was the hardest, most stressful thing I’ve ever had to do. The last days of my mom’s life she was like her old self and she thanked me for staying with her. It was like old times. For a moment, my mom was back to herself. On May 7, 2015, my mom was at peace. However, my life changed forever. If I had to do this all over again for my mom, I would. I have no regrets. My mom’s memory lives on in her children and grandchildren, she is so deeply missed.
Written by: Lisa Carter, A Caregiver