Son documenting mother’s battle with dementia records her forgetting who he is for first time — ‘Hardest day of my life’
An Ohio man with a web series following his relationship with his mom as she experiences Lewy Body Dementia shared the first day she couldn’t remember his identity.
After visiting the mall photo booth to get their picture taken together, Joe Daley and his mom, Molly, sit inside a Tim Horton’s to sit and talk over coffee.
Sadly, after a few minutes it becomes apparent Molly, 66, doesn’t know who she’s speaking with.
“You don’t know who my mom is?” he asks her when she inquires about his parents. “I’m Joey. Who’s my mom?”
“I don’t know,” she says.
Her 45-year-old son then asks, “Who am I?”
“I don’t know,” she replies.
Quickly, making the realization that the disease has stripped away his mother’s memory of him, Joey begins to tear up as he sits across from Molly.
Following an emotional conversation in which he tries to convince Molly that everything is OK, that he’s only crying because of something related to work, Joey brings his mom back to her nursing home.
He makes one last attempt inside her room to see if she recalls who he is using a picture of himself she had on her wall.
Again, she can’t remember her child, asking, “Who do you think it is?”
“Is it your son?” he responds.
“I don’t know that either,” Molly says.
The video cutting to Joey inside his car and on the verge of sobbing, he tells the camera, “Hardest day of my life … when your mother doesn’t know who you are. She knows my name but doesn’t know who I am.”
Breaking down, he says, “I feel like she just died.”
Speaking with the Daily News, Daley confirmed he’ll continue to make two to three videos a week, approximately every time he visits his mom at her nursing home.
“These videos are for my mother, people suffering with dementia and people who have died from dementia,” he said. “They deserve that the world knows the suffering they went through. That’s what drives me.”
Daley says his mother’s dementia “set in around six years ago and has progressively gotten worse the past couple of years.”
Acknowledging an “overwhelming” response and amount of support he’s gotten since posting his latest episode, Daley said, “I didn’t want my mother to suffer and die in vain.”
Even with this painful chapter in his relationship with his mother, Daley is trying to remain as positive as possible.
“She might not know I’m her son,” he said, “but she knows how I make her feel.”