"You have to know when and where." This is the phrase my mother constantly told me as a child. She knew directionality was never easy for me so she always tried to direct me in a certain way. She wanted me to blend in well at Lord and Taylor's. Alas, I didn't always fill the mold.

Mother was born and bred in Kingston, Canada. Her father started as a peddler and eventually had a shop in town. She was born when there were no televisions, no cell phones, no cars, no airplanes, no computers or Internet. When you dialed on your phone, the operator would answer and ask "Sally, with whom would you like to speak?"

She thought the aide was a burglar and called the policeAfter my father died, my mother lived in a one bedroom apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City. She fit in. She was a volunteer at the Jewish Museum, the treasurer of her sisterhood at Park Avenue Synagogue. She often met with friends for coffee and a bagel. She made a good life for herself.

Then she started to forget. It was a very slow process. Four years ago, she had a mass on her side, which was diagnosed as cancer of the gall bladder. She almost died. I spoke to her every day. First I visited once a month, then once every three weeks, once every two weeks, once a week, and then I moved in for five weeks.

She had an infected cancerous gall bladder duct tumor. The doctors thought it was time for her to die. I fought them. She had the tumor lanced and was very weak. She started to hallucinate. Alzheimer's set in big time. Her hallucination: She was at a dinner party saying good-bye to her guests. That's my mom.

We tried to set up services for her in New York. She thought the aide was a burglar and called the police. When she went for a walk, she thought the aide was a mugger following her. We discovered medications. She calmed down but could not tolerate help in her apartment. She would bang on doors of neighbors asking to be let in. They did not complain but it was not working.

My husband had a contractor change a bathroom and room for her in our house. We rented an RV, since she could not walk a block on her own. It took us seven hours to get Mother to our house.

The doctor here gave her a prognosis of three weeks, then three months, then six months and then shrugged his shoulders. The following Chanukah, my mother had a CAT scan and an MRI. The doctor came to our house with the results. "A great miracle happened here," he said. "No more cancer!"

She lived with us for almost three years. In the beginning, she had only partial care and I took care of her. She was very upset. Her continual loss of memory, growing incontinence and loss of balance made her feel like a burden. She wanted someone else to be the first line of defense. We hired twenty-four/seven care in twelve-hour shifts.

She would become confused, uneasy, and anxious, sometimes crying, sometimes pacingShe enjoyed so many moments with us. Early morning was the best. She had a cheerful and playful encounter. She was clear and loving. My mommy. "Let me kiss your keppe," she said each day as she reached for my head. Often at lunchtime, she would ask about my day. At dinner, it was a different story. She would become confused, uneasy, and anxious, sometimes crying, sometimes pacing, walking from room to room, and demanding to go home. Somewhere, anywhere, where she could find some peace of mind.

It was very hard. Everyday, I said hello to my mother in the morning, and goodbye to her in the afternoon. I felt like I was losing her bit by bit to an unseen enemy, a confusion of mind.

My children came home for visits. She enjoyed the grandchildren best. During one visit, my two year old grandson played a game with her for an hour. He took one tissue at a time from the tissue box and gave it to her. She laughed and laughed. Another grandchild, then two and a half, liked to dance. I would put on children's music for us and we had a daily dance party. She couldn't get up all the time, but she held on and smiled.

Then things started to shift again. She started calling me mommy. She sometimes asks for her daughter when I am in the room. Often, she speaks about my father and wonders whom he is with, since he must have left her. (They were very happily married. My father died thirty-two years ago.) My latest response to that is, “I don't know where he is, but if you see him, tell him I love him.”

It cost a fortune with the twelve-hour shifts. We needed to make a change. In lucid moments, she wanted a place of her own. A neighbor had an apartment. My mother moved in with twenty-four/seven care. There are moments when she is very happy. She is happy in her spacious rooms, happy for the companionship. She calls me Mother now. I visit her almost very day. We sit on the back porch, watch TV or drink tea together.

She asks me where Poppa (her father) is; sometimes she knows he's gone. She asks for her friends who have also passed on. My mother is now ninety-four years old. I tell her, "Mother, this is the downside of growing old." In a moment of clarity she responds with a nod. Many times, she cycles back into the conversation as if it is for the first time. I tell my children that it's an opportunity to always come up with different answers. They smile. But I know they feel the sadness as well. We have my mother with us, but to some extent, she is not there any more.

She talks to me in different tones, from different times in her lifeShe is my time traveler. Often when I visit, she talks to me in different tones, from different times in her life. She asks about different people, has a different memory. Often, it is good to share the past; sometimes it is very painful to see the decline.

There are moments, flashes, single nano seconds when she is current and aware. I treasure those moments. We share, laugh, sigh, glance and remember our precious memories. And then, the moment is gone, and she cycles back into her Alzheimers present.

Maybe it’s not so important to know when and where...maybe its just okay to be, right now.