As Mom has moved along on her Alzheimer journey I've found myself once more rebelling against the ways I am like her. I do not want to become dependent on others as I age or cause my children pain through the irritability and vindictive anger that some dementia patients experience. I don't want to break my daughter's heart by becoming gut-wrenchingly lost and needy. And I don't want my son to draw a veil over his emotions toward me as men are inclined to do under the weight of heartache.
As a result of Mom's dementia I have an unhealthy habit of analyzing my own cognition, and any minor memory glitch causes my heart to clutch with fear. This must displease the Lord; in prayer this thought came: "You fear weakness, and this keeps you from recognizing your strengths."
I remembered a study I read years ago about the unique personality traits of identical twins. Scientists were surprised at the differences in brain structure of these genetically identical individuals, differences that often became more pronounced as the twins aged. I found a study that showed when one member of a twin pair was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the other developed the disease only about half the time. I am my mother's daughter, not her twin, and so the correlation between us may be even lower; just because she has the disease doesn't mean I'll receive a similar diagnosis. And no matter what the future holds, my path will not be identical to hers.
There are many reasons to be happy for the ways I'm like my mother. I feel gratitude toward her for my faith in God, which lived first in her. I admire her years of service to the Lord, and I seek to emulate her ministry to youth and her heart for the elderly. My mom was and is a person worth admiring, but I am not identical to her either in my strengths or my weaknesses.
I am uniquely me, uniquely loved of the Lord, and I have a life path to follow that is all my own. Even though the resemblance between us is strong, I am not just like my mother. The only perfect, one-to-one correlation between Mom and me is that the Lord's presence accompanies each of us on our uniquely individual life journeys.