My Mama has Alzheimer’s Disease.

She is in her 90’s (I would never disclose her actual age in print!) and lives in North Carolina with my oldest sister, Veita. She is happy and surrounded by loving family and friends. Oh, and let’s not forget her constant companion, Gracie the chiuchiua. Gracie is always in her lap or at her feet. She refers to Gracie as her granddaughter, thus making my siblings and I aunts and uncles. In particular, I am “Uncle P.”

My Mama is a retired high school English/French teacher and guidance counselor. 45 years in the same school system in Jones County in Gray, Georgia. Her profession gave rise to my name: Pierre is her favorite French name. She is still full of sage advice, dispensing it with confidence and a smile. Also, there is no doubt her professional skills are intact. Give her a red pen and a manuscript, she will correct it flawlessly and one dare not split a verb in her presence. Her conversations consist of a series of questions and monologues about her six children, seven grand, three great grandchildren and my Daddy, who passed away in 1999.

Each conversation with her children has a unique set of reoccurring questions. Our conversation tract revolves around my practice in Florida and how proud she is I am doing well. My Mama is and always has been very invested in my being a veterinarian. I have shared with her I opened my own practice, but the fact doesn’t stay with her. If only I could write her a letter, that may help.

Dear Mama,

Well I did it. I got my practice opened. As expected, it is a bit slow going at first but doing better than expected. I saw four clients on the first day, not as many the second day, but am making lots of contacts.

I just wanted to thank you for always being there for me. No matter how smart or boneheaded my choices, you are there in support. You and Daddy taught us to dream big and work hard. It wasn’t always easy, but your encouragement to keep going paid off, just as the two of you always told us it would.

I want you to know I am trying to exercise patience as you have always told and attempted to teach me. Sometimes is very difficult, but I keep trying. It helps that I sincerely attempt to treat every client the way I would want my mother treated. When I keep that in mind, things work out well.

Thank you for everything. I will continue trying to make you proud by being the kind of man and veterinarian you expect me to be.

I promise. Love, P I guess I just did.