My late mom was a strong woman who held the family together. She was not the sickly type while I was growing up. She was the real definition of imbokodo (our rock). After my sister’s death I started noticing a change in my mom. She was forgetful most of the time and saying things that did not make sense.
Things gradually got worse. She’d often tell us she wanted to go “home”, and this now started to scare all of us. She seemed to be losing her mind. One day she asked for an apple, and I gave it to her, with the knife for cutting the skin. When I got back to check on her, she was cutting herself on the wrist with the knife. Another scary incident was when she put my then four-year-old son in the dustbin thinking that he is a tokoloshe. I then realised that something was very wrong with her. Some people thought she was bewitched.
I took her to a doctor who diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s Disease. I was given more information about the disease and how to take care of my mom. Before the treatment kicked in, we had to lock her indoors as she started to wonder around and we feared that people may attack her as she used to take off her clothes and walk around naked.
In our neighbourhood, people didn’t understand this disease and assumed all the affected old people were witches. At times my mom used to be aggressive towards me when I stopped her from going away to her “home”. After few consultations and treatment at the hospital, we started to see an improvement. She was a lot calmer, but sadly she was never her old self.
She continued treatment and passed on at home on the day she was supposed to go for her check-up. That day she refused to go to hospital. I had to leave for work and sadly within a few minutes after leaving home, I got a call that she just slept and stopped breathing. That was the end. Alzheimer’s is the worst disease ever to watch your loved one go through. It broke my heart to see her in that state. May her soul rest in peace.