Should We Invite My Alzheimer's-Stricken Mother to Our Son's Upcoming Bar Mitzvah?

Dear Bintel Brief:

Our son’s bar mitzvah is rapidly approaching, and we still are not sure what to do. My mother, who lives in a far away state, has Alzheimer’s and it will be very discombobulating for her and her aide to travel to us. Moreover, my mom won’t remember the event even a few minutes after it has occurred. While she’s here, she will wonder where she is and what’s going on.

Yet every time we talk on the phone, she asks (several times), “How old is my grandson?” And when I tell her, “Twelve,” she immediately says, “Well, is there a bar mitzvah coming up? I hope I’m invited!” It’s very strange, since she was always anti-religion.

My question for you: Should we try to bring my mom out here anyway, knowing that she will be confused the whole time and require a lot of attention? And if we don’t bring her out, what do we tell her when she asks, “Didn’t he have a bar mitzvah?”


Jeffrey Zaslow writes about life transitions as The Wall Street Journal’s “Moving On” columnist. Alongside the professor Randy Pausch, Zaslow wrote “The Last Lecture,” a best-selling book based on an uplifting lecture Pausch gave after having been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The book has been on The New York Times’ Best-Sellers list for 47 weeks.

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Should We Invite My Alzheimer's-Stricken Mother to Our Son's Upcoming Bar Mitzvah?

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