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My Story: Why I Write

April 22, 2013


Karen never left the house without her lipstick on.

Soft-spoken and kind, she was generous with her time, generous with her friendship. She went to church and taught Sunday School. She meticulously maintained a lovely home for her adoring husband and two well-dressed children. Every holiday, waifs without family were invited to share their dinner table.

image026 - Amber,Round

Karen lived a picture-perfect life.

Until she became ill. Plagued by an ugly cousin of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s called Huntington’s Disease, which had already claimed her own mother. She knew what her future would hold. She left her husband, her children, and her friends, and chose to live apart, until she died alone in a convalescent hospital at the age of 57.

Why would my mother, a godly woman, surrounded by people who loved her, turn us all away?

Why would she choose isolation over the support and love of friends, her church, and her family?

Why would anyone choose to bear such a burden alone?

Six years ago, my mother died alone in a convalescent hospital at the age of 57. At the onset of her illness, nine years prior, this loving wife, mother, and friend left everyone, choosing to live apart and alone until her death.

For 15 years I have tried to understand why – why would a godly woman, surrounded by people who loved and cared for her, turn all of us away at a time of greatest need?

I believe the answer is shame.

She was ashamed of her illness. Ashamed of her disability. Ashamed that the perfect, flawless façade she tried so hard to maintain was irreparably shattered.

So, now you know. I write to understand. I write to grieve. I write to remember.





Please subscribe to this blog, or follow on Facebook, as I continue exploring our struggles with grief, shame, and unmet expectations – and how God can use our shattered selves to shine through the broken places! 

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2013 7:50 am

    ” A lady always knows when it’s time to leave the room.”

    Your mother knew that her disease, which she would never admit to having, would change her and make her into something she was NOT. She needed to remove herself from all she loved so that she could privately live the “hell” that was before her. I never understood why she rejected help and why she would not admit her condition. I can only conclude that she wanted to spare family and friends the horror of her losing control and becoming someone no one would recognize. Everything she presented before the disease gained primacy was completely 100% genuine. She was the most wonderful friend that I have ever had and was every inch a lady and completely in love with her Lord, her husband, her children, her church family, and friends. I miss her so much and I ache to have the chance to sup tea and scones with her, take long walks, shop in the malls and have “lady lunches”, and long talks while weeding her flower beds. She was given to me by God to bless me beyond words.

    Write on, Adelle. You are her legacy. She would have been your biggest fan and beaming with love and pride, as you spread your wings and fly to new heights through your gift of writing. Be blessed. I love you.

    • April 22, 2013 8:11 am

      ML – you knew her so well. Thank you for the reminder that she did this out of our best interests, not her own. I love you, too!

  2. April 22, 2013 8:03 am

    I understand what you are dealing with. My mother passed in 2000. She was the strongest force I had ever known in my life and I was not prepared to lose her when I did. She was the healthiest person I had ever known. Very disciplined in everything she did. She had survived WWII, came to a new country and learned english. She volunteered at the VA hospital and fully embraced her life. She was a strong , smart woman. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer the fight just left her. I was disappointed in her for a long time. She was so much younger then her years. I wanted her to fight but she resigned her self to death. I still to this day am trying to figure why a woman so full of life and still so much to look forward to would not get second opinions and fight this out.

    God bless you for your words.

    • April 22, 2013 8:11 am

      Thank you for sharing that – what a great and terrible loss in your life! Thanks for your understanding and solidarity.

  3. Lisa permalink
    April 22, 2013 9:02 am

    klI loved your mom like my own! She was fun and loving and a great Christian spirit. She got me through the teens without mom and I hating each other!! I was so sorry her end of life was so sad. That was not the way anyone would have wanted it. Love you Adelle!

  4. Debbie Hamby permalink
    April 22, 2013 10:20 am

    Oh Adelle, my heart goes out to you! There is nothing quite like the strong connection that a daughter feels toward her mother, no matter how hard things may become. We long to be loved perfectly by our mothers, and when they make choices that we can’t understand, it goes so very deep. I can personally imagine entertaining the idea of running from upcoming pain in order to spare my family from suffering. Or maybe her perception was indeed that her disease would lead to shame, and I can imagine wanting to run from that too. Whatever the reason, my heart also goes out to her as I imagine the fear she faced. I have been learning that I am more fragile sometimes than I ever expected to be as I face my own limitations. I think that our mothers would long to have our forgiveness as much as we long to one day be forgiven by our own children for our fragile places. I envision the day in eternity future when she embraces you again and the healing sweeps through both of you.

  5. Evelyn Acord permalink
    April 23, 2013 9:35 am

    I so enjoyed and loved your mother, although I did not know her as well as Mary Lou. I think Mary Lou is very insightful and I agree with her. I too could not understand why she withdrew, but then I did not have the courage to ask her, I regret that I didn’t. After Marcia died at age 13 in 1981. I was angry at God and devastated with such a broken heart. I thought I would never be/feel whole again. If anyone came to me and said, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I was in fear I would deck them! At times some of us have and will be given ‘more than we can handle’. Maybe that scripture meant spiritually ~ do we truly understand it? (I Cor 10:13) I believe it has to do with temptation and God providing a way of escape. (Spiritual battle) Life is tough and some of us have to go through super bad things. I agree with you, I believe somehow it all had to do with ‘shame’ and had nothing to do with the love she had for you. I know she is looking down on you with such pride! For me God did forgive my anger, he soothed my loss and made my broken heart whole again while here on earth. Your lovely mother has been made whole with her Lord. We are all blessed for your God given gift and need to write! You go girl, don’t ever stop!


  1. On Death, Joy and Tattoos (And Where I’ve Been) | Adelle Gabrielson
  2. What Not to Pray (Unless You Really Mean It) | Adelle Gabrielson
  3. The Waiting: On Fear, Friendship, and Snorkeling | Adelle Gabrielson
  4. Friday FAQ: Life After Huntington’s Disease | Adelle Gabrielson
  5. My History with Huntington’s Disease: Writing From The Inside Out | Adelle Gabrielson

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