On Life,  Wander, Wonder, Write

From One Crisis to the Next

Many months ago, I froze my travel blog in space and time. Not only because of the pandemic, but also because of two serious family situations that I could not yet share online. For legal and emotional reasons, I kept quiet about what went on in my life. Today, I open up.

The first situation involved my family-in-law in the United States. After Daniel’s mother unexpectedly died in August 2020, his father, suffering from dementia, found himself in precarious circumstances from which he could not free himself. Daniel and I left Vietnam as quickly as was safely possible. In Florida, we exposed the neighbor who, along with my sister-in-law, had surreptitiously gained guardianship over my father-in-law. The judge listened to our plight and took action. Daniel and I became full-time caregivers overnight and nursed Daniel’s father back to health. It took until April, however, to wrap up the legal mess.

Meanwhile, the second family situation in the Netherlands had become more urgent. I don’t know why I haven’t written about my mother before. Perhaps because it felt too personal, too intimate. But now it feels as though I would be lying by omission if I don’t address my current pain at all.

After several years of memory problems and severe anxiety, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January 2020. She was seventy-three. A week later, Daniel and I flew to Asia for what was supposed to be a three-month journey. Then Corona happened, and when I finally returned to the Netherlands after a prolonged stay in Vietnam and a caregiving stopover in Florida, I had not seen her in over a year. She still remembered who I was, but she was no longer the mother I had left behind.

Her mind is like quicksand now and her will to live is gone. I vow to regularly make notes during the weeks I will spend with my mother, knowing they will likely be our last. But I will probably not want to share these notes here right away. Like most humans, I tend to retreat when I grieve and the grieving has begun.

Photo: Portrait of My Mother as a Young Woman.


  • Lan

    One of the many painful aspects of caregiving is that sometimes the person cared for sees the caregiver as the only safe space in which to be irritable and even mean. I hope that doesn’t happen but if it does, just be prepared. I am told it’s quite common. Sending you my prayerful thoughts. L

  • Wieneke

    Lieve Claire!

    In je verhaal herken ik helaas mijn eigen moeder. Ik heb het geluk dat het proces bij haar langzaam -soms bijna onmerkbaar- verloopt, dat ik er vaak heen kan, maar vooral het grote geluk dat mijn vader haar liefdevol opvangt. Toch, stel dat ik haar het laatste jaar niet gezien had, dan zou ik ook flink geschrokken zijn van hoe ze veranderd is. Het is langzaam afscheid nemen van iemand die er fysiek nog gewoon is. Helaas onderdeel van het leven, maar erg verdrietig. Veel sterkte, liefde en kracht gewenst. Knap en dapper dat je jouw speciale kracht, het schrijven, hierbij in durft te zetten, en dat ook durft te delen!

    X Wieneke