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Breaking My Promise to My Mother

Updated on June 26, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, a four-year Alzheimer's caregiver, is committed to learning and sharing information about the role and the disease.

The guilt is overpowering. The fear is tormenting. The judgments are soul-crushing. Nothing changes the fact: I am incapable of keeping the promise I made to my mother.

Here on this Caribbean island, it is almost heresy to talk about options concerning elderly care. Until recent years, aged citizens lived with their children or close relative till death. If the old folk were “disgusting” or “miserable”—terms commonly used to describe my mother’s present condition—only trustworthy persons were privy to that fact. That sense of family loyalty is what I am up against.

“You know that your daughter will do the same thing to you,” somebody scolded me, on learning that I had broken my promise.

Truth is, I will discourage my daughter from making the promise I made to my mother; and if she already did, she has my consent to change her mind.

I'm Sorry!!

Photo by Larisa Koshkina
Photo by Larisa Koshkina | Source

The Promise

My mother was a teenager when I was born. Soon after my birth, she was offered the opportunity to migrate to another country “to better herself” as folks usually say. Her mother would not allow it; my mother had to take care of her child—me.

My mother’s younger sister had six children when she was offered the opportunity to migrate. She left, and my mother helped to care for her children. My aunt consequently died and my mother stood in as guardian for her nieces and nephews the best way she could.

My mother’s mother—my grandmother—lived with her in her latest years, and my mother gave her sterling quality care. After being caregiver for me and so many others, it is only reasonable for my mother to receive excellent, personal care in her old age. That is what I promised to do—have her live with me, look after her physical and medical needs, supply spiritual and emotional comfort, be there for her as much as is humanly possible.

Mamma and Me
Mamma and Me | Source

The Options

I received several warnings from professional health care workers and from experienced caregivers that the job was greater than I could handle; but having made that promise, I had to try. Now that I have proven my incompetence, I have to explore other options.

My mother's need is a safe, comfortable, healthy environment in which caretakers offer compassionate care to an Alzheimer’s patient.

  • She could be cared for by a trained in-home caregiver, but so far no such person is available.
  • There are a few private health care facilities on the island. They offer adequate care, but I would have to find fairy godparents to help meet the expense.
  • There is a government-subsidized facility which is in another village. I have been advised that the home was donated by a family from that village, with the stipulation that first preference be given to residents in the immediate community. There’s no guarantee that my mother will be admitted, still I hope.

My Fears

While I pursue my mother's admission to the home, I search my mind for other options, hoping to find one which would pacify the discomfort I feel about breaking the promise. The more I search, the more dissatisfied I become. There are no solutions for my fears based on what I anticipate her attitude will be.

  • Limited Space

I am terrified to think of how she will respond when she discovers that she has to leave 99% of her belongings behind. There is only room for a minimum amount of clothing, not for overflow baggage. Although I am pleased with the arrangement and cleanliness of the rooms, I am afraid my mother will be aggravated by the lack of space. I hope that I am wrong.

  • Distance from Home

My mother complains almost daily that nobody cares about her anymore. That is because she forgets who comes by and when, and it is true that the frequency of their visits has lessened since I am with her. When she is so far away from church members and relatives, their visits will be even more sparse. I wonder what confusion plus the sense of abandonment will feel like for her.

How do you usually handle your emotions?

See results
  • Total Loss of Control

Although my mother can longer keep up with her gardening, she still monitors the fruits on the apple, avocado, banana and pomegranate trees. She knows when they are ready to be picked and she has a distribution system to make sure we share with others. She still has some control there.

She chooses to do her own laundry. She thinks that no-one else will care her clothing as well as she does. She has control there too. She has limited control over when and what she eats. She calls relatives overseas when she remembers. How will my mother accept that so much of her control and her independence have been taken away?

I am still privileged to be in control of my life (within my surrender to God). The guilt, the fear, the uncertainty accompanying me every day are forces to be reckoned with. How I remain in control is the topic for another chapter.

Update: Renewal of Promise

My mother spent nine months in the home for the elderly before I removed her. Disrespect, lack of professionalism and organization were very obvious and made me uncomfortable about leaving my mother there. I have renewed my promise to be her caregiver and I am learning to cope with God's help.

A wealth of information about the disease as well as free caregiver training is available online.

Look for Free e-learning workshops on the page to which the adjacent link leads. The courses have been of optimum benefit to me, and I highly recommend them.


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    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, Journey* for your prayers and your support. I appreciate you!

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 years ago from USA

      MsDora, this is a very touching story. You've written it in a thoughtful and beautiful way. I think this personal story of yours is so very relatable for others struggling with the issues surrounding having a loved one with Alzheimer's. I'll keep you and your Mom in my thoughts and prayers.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      DDE, thanks for your support.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi MsDora a most interesting about this title, I very much enjoyed this hub you are certainly good at what you do and delivered a thoughtful hub indeed.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, PeachPurple. Glad the expressions are beautiful, even though the feeling may not be.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beautiful and enchanting

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you Laurie, looking forward to your articles!

    • LaurieNunley517 profile image


      5 years ago from Deep South

      What a super article! Alzheimers is such a sad disease. Thank you also, for the welcome! God's blessings!

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, for your comment Ignugent. I appreciate you!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What a wonderful hub. Thanks for sharing MsDora. It is always good to be honest to ourselves. Have a good day! :-)

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Avneet, what a wonder comment. You're right about tough times passing away. Thanks for your reminder.

    • avneet sidhu profile image

      Avneet kaur Sidhu 

      5 years ago from Chandigarh

      Hello MsDora, a big thank you for such a beautiful article. It is an incredible way to express how we feel while making a promise and you expressed it beautifully. There is a beautiful thing about tough time that it passes away, I am praying for your best.... have a great life!!!!...........

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      You're right Rajan. Losing control is a bit uncomfortable. Thanks for your best wishes.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      How life changes! Sometimes we have no control over the incidents taking place in our life though we do our best. Hope for the best for you.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Ron. What a thoughtful comment. Thanks for your prayers.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      MsDora, what a heart-wrenching dilemma. I'm praying for you.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bob, I appreciate your discerning, comforting spirit. Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

    • BobMonger profile image


      5 years ago from Carlin, Nevada USA

      This is indeed a heavy burden to bear for one person. Though you haven't said it I also sense a feeling of loneliness that is all too common for people in your position. I shall be praying for you as well as your mother that God's grace may ease this heavy load you carry. Although I do sympathize with your other relatives I cannot help but feel they are not being as involved as they could be. At time like these it is most important for families to come closer together rather than drifting apart so I shall be praying for them to see that light as well. You should take comfort in the knowledge that you are doing as you promised by your actions in her best interests. And never doubt that the Lord will always be at your side to see you through this difficult time.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Parrster, you make so much sense. "Keep to the intent." Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Manatita. I know that I feel your prayers and your comfort. Thanks for your hug.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      5 years ago from Australia

      There are the words spoken in a promise, and then there is intent behind them. You have always desired what is best for your mother and your promise was made with that intent. To keep to the words of your promise will require abandoning your intent. Better to abandon the words and keep to the intent. Do what's best for her.

    • manatita44 profile image


      5 years ago from london

      Dearly Beloved,

      You appear to be in some pain. I feel very close to you and yet I did not know this. My deepest apologies. I have read every comment here and still feel inadequate to respond. Yet friends need each other and I must respond.

      I turned away from Hub Pages and spent 20 minutes with my shrine in prayer, to send you healing thoughts.

      Like Bill, I now embrace you, asking Him for the capacity of a much stronger hug and healing Spirit. I bid you much fortitude, prudence, clarity, gratitude and the spirit of surrender. May the Divine Mother bless and guide you, as well as accompany you both. Loving thoughts.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Marissa, thanks for your concern. I find your explanations very helpful and understanding!

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lambservant, that mental picture you share is wonderful. I will make use of your prayer. Thank you!

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Denise, your comment is very comforting. Thanks for your kind concern.

    • marissacreange profile image


      5 years ago from Allentown, Pennsylvania

      Let me first start by saying, my heart goes out to you, as well as my thoughts and prayers. Three of my great grandparents were affected by this heart wrenching disease, one of whom I lived with as a child. To see someone you love deeply begin to forget you, the year, and even themselves is one of the hardest things to go through. It starts slowly, gradually consuming their entire being as time goes by. Having only clues as to what causes it, and absolutely no cures for it, is frustrating and terrifying. Many try to manage the disease and take care of their loved ones themselves, but what no doctor can truly explain, is the simple fact that after the disease has taken it's course, they are no longer the loved one you remember. You try to be understanding, but find it to be an exhausting and overwhelming experience. They get angry because they don't know who they are, who you are, why you are looking at them with confusion. They are terrified and confused themselves, nevertheless, it doesn't make it any easier to cope. You will have good days that will give you hope, only to have your heart ripped out the next when you realize those good days are only going to come less and less often. By the end they can become a danger to themselves and others. It is the most difficult decision to make, do you keep trying? Do you listen to the advice of others and find somewhere they will remain safe? By doing what is best for your mother, you are left to feel guilty. I understand your inner turmoil. I hope you find your answer, I hope you find solice in whichever decision you make. Best of wishes, and best of luck.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Oh Ms Dora, you are so loved by God and others (Me too). You promised to care for your mother and you are doing that by finding her a place to go that can give her the care you are not able to give. I am a professional caregiver and I see with nearly every dementia and Alzheimer's patient the family exhausted and unable to meet their loved one's needs.

      You asked how we handle emotions and I am not real consistent in doing any, but lately I allow myself to feel them without judging myself and cry out to the Lord for the situation that is bringing on the emotions. I mentally picture myself taking the person, place, or thing I am troubled about to the feet of Jesus and say, Lord I am helpless and unable to fix the person place or thing. So I give them and my worries to you, entrusting them to your good care. I find such peace. But I admit I have to do it almost daily.

      The Lord bless you and keep you andyour mama, Ms Dora;

      The Lord make his face to shine upon you both and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you both and give you peace.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Alzheimers is tough. It takes away the person that we once knew and replaces them with a stranger. With God's help, I pray that you will be able to resolve this dilemma that you are facing, and that you will have peace in your soul. I believe that God is forgiving, and that your mother will be as well, when you meet her in the afterlife and all is said and done. The person that she is now may be unhappy with her placement, but she is not the same person to which you made your promise.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Shofarcall, thank you for your encouragement. Your comment is so precious. Thank God for caring believers like you!

    • shofarcall profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello MsDora,

      My heart and prayer goes out to and for you.

      This is such a difficult condition. I have had friends who like you have wanted to care for their parent/s who have had Alzheimers. They too tried and discovered that they were just not equipped for what was required.

      One friend had to sleep in the living room, near the front door, because her mum would wake up in the middle of the night and go out in the freezing cold, in just her nightgown and go wandering down the road which was in a town. My friend ended up suffering the cycle of not getting any sleep and not being sufficiently rested to care for her mum during the day. For her mums own safety, she needed to be in a secure environment where there were people who could care for her every need.

      We know that in the midst of the struggle our Emmanuel is there. A solution will materialise. God Bless you Ms Dora and your mum.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Someone, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for expressing this truth.

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      5 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      It's times like this that try men's souls

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Vicki, thanks to you and other cyber friends to you whose affection is so real to me. Thanks for understanding and supporting.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, thanks for the joy you always share, and also for the prayers. Blessings on you and your family.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Dear Jan, I am so glad to know what you are going through, and so sad that you have to go through it. This must be such a terrible quandary for you, dealing with someone who is not rational a lot of the time, and facing disapproval from family whose values are rooted in a place that you left years ago. You still have so much to face in the future, and it is good that you are trying to find the best solution for you and your mother. Only you can know what that is. Rest assured though that you have many cyber friends who will support you in whatever decision you choose. I know that you will choose the right one. You are a balanced and trustworthy individual. My best thoughts to you, dear friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Just a wonderful beautiful hub. The issue is so hard on so many people. Walking through it with you will help and then keep on helping.

      Sometimes people say "everything will be alright". Sometimes that is not true no matter what we do. Of course my home will pray for you regularly. But I wish we did not need to.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Frank, thanks for your input. We expect family ties tor remain tight, disease comes along and threaten to disrupt it. We can only do the best that we can do. All the best to you and your children.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for your hug and your blessing, Billybuc. Your comment is very encouraging.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      sometimes promises are made to be broken... and regret should never enter the mind.. In reverse I'll always be there for my children.. and I know my children will always be there for me.. family ties is just that they tie..:) oohh the photo of the baby broke my heart :(

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sending a big hug to you my friend.

      Alzheimer's is the disease that takes no prisoners. In many ways it is harder on the relatives of the patient than it is on the patient, and as time moves on, and the disease worsens, the patient transports into a make believe world and is really not aware of what is going on.

      I feel your anguish and I understand the end, you have to ask what is best for your mother and what is best for you. No act by you or anyone else is going to reverse this have a life to live as well.

      Sending you blessings and wisdom today and always



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