The night before last, I put the alarm on, and locked the shop up tight. My feet made a loud crunching noise on the frozen landscape. It was a still night, and Alice’s, the restaurant next door was more deserted than usual.
My eyes were drawn to the white orb in the night sky, and the fullness of the moon took my breath away. It was mesmerizing, as it hung there impossibly large. I gasped at the beauty of it.
It felt like a gift.
I drove the country roads , winding my way back to my home, and was making a concentrated effort to prepare my thoughts, and demeanor to see my Mum.
When I had left that morning before work, she had been in tears. As the big slow droplets of salted water dribbled down her cheeks, she asked the question, that still hangs in the night air,
“ What will become of me?”
This question had been darting in and out of my mind all day long. How does one go about responding to such a cavernous type inquiry?
I believe she wanted reassurance, but even as I tried to reply, and give comfort, I knew she would not be satisfied with my lame response.
In truth, she wanted to know the intangible, to be told, everything will be ok.. when it really won’t, at least not in any way right now that will be satisfying.
Is saying the trite words, “ everything will be ok,” when your mind screams,
“no, do not let this be happening… stop the clock… reverse…no more disease.”
I am selfish..I don’t want to watch my other parent slowly…. inch by inch ….drift away into the night.
I think to myself, as the radio softly plays Christmas tunes, and my seat warmer slowly warms my posterior , that she just does not want to venture forward alone. She is unsure…
I am unsure… There are choices that seem to have no right answer, just a series of heartbreaking ones, but now I’m the adult , and like it or not, I need to advocate for my Mother.
Last night I arrived at her house. I was supposed to be picking up my son from the airport. His plane was late leaving, so he missed his connection. He will stay overnight in Minneapolis, and fly in Christmas Eve day.
I had not intended to stay in her house this evening. I was going to collect some of her photo albums, and family pictures that she had asked for, but as I wandered throughout the house, once filled with so many… I was alone.
I sat down with a heavy heart, and sunk into her bed… and cried…
The last time I had been alone in the house, was almost 10 years ago, when she had been in hospital having a neuro endocrine tumor removed. It had not been cancer. They said they were 98% sure it would be.. but it wasn’t.
That had been incredible grace. I had thought at the time, we would lose her, but we didn’t.
There are many memories from this house, from this dwelling, where she has lived for more than 50 years. Of course she would not ever want to move from here, who would?
Sometimes our earthly dwellings no longer comfort us.
She says, “ this house has too many doors.”
I see her turning this way and that, searching for her way… I can’t even imagine.. how this feels..
The once so familiar, is now.. a vacant space, that sometimes makes sense, but more often now than not, makes her feel lost, and disoriented.
”The struggle is real.” I see it, and it pierces my soul to witness it played out in front of my pupils.
She is in my home with a caregiver. She says that she misses her family.
This month of December, as we anticipate being with loved ones, and sharing in family times together, is becoming more fractured. We seem to be more and more bits and pieces. This is perhaps, how we cope, and keep loving and living.
We gather up our splintered realities, and keep loving, knowing that is the only glue that can truly put the vessel of our lives to right again.
Each time we enter into the plight of one another, and take on the suffering … we are transformed, and made new. We are awakened, that we are finite.. we can break.. we can fall ill…
As my Dad used to say,
” disease is not a respecter of persons.”
I found this photo in a bookcase in my Dad and Mum’s old office. It made me smile.. It’s a good photo. Whatever is making them laugh here, is the good stuff. Old photographs are proof that these events really did occur, we didn’t just dream them up as a way to placate our injured souls.
The sound of someones’ voice, their laughter…the way they smell, the feel of their skin… all of these things can diminish over time, and we fight to remember, to not let these irreplaceable things disappear into the abyss of our minds.
When I came home the other night, the caregiver looked quite tired. She said that the day had been hard on her. My Mum had become fixated on knowing her future, and was anxiously propelling herself further into a state of renewed panic, of facing an unknown future to her. She was triggered, and was getting herself worked up over knowing the unknown, of wanting proof… she would be ok.
Amy, the caregiver , had asked for support from another caregiver, who has had more experience with dementia, to come over, and assist her, in quieting Mum’s concerns. Re-direction is the word of the day it would seem. Asking for help is key. I am so grateful that she did this.
Amy felt at a loss as to how to get Mum off the subject that was at hand , and was making her spiral downwards..
There seems to be several items which help in this situation.
They have all been working on a puzzle for this last week or so. The beagle apparently, may have eaten a piece or two.. so…not helpful Tillie. This puzzle is challenging, and allows Mum and Amy to chit chat, and work through issues and concerns in a casual manner.
Amy also brought over an anatomy book, and her and Mum perused this with great interest.
I located a book co-written by my Auntie Ella, and her son, entitled, “ The Family Recipe.”
Mum announces with great amazement the other morning, that “ I didn’t know I was born a German.”
It would seem that the delight in learning, and re learning does not tire, but rather this seemingly new information further tantalizes the mind, and oxytocin is released as she discovers items from her past, that she had forgotten.
It is reminiscent of the childlike innocence in finding new and wonderful exploits around each corner of your world. This part is quite wonderful to behold.
The social aspect of meeting friends, new and old, also has a lovely and positive affect on our demeanor. The unexpectedness of enjoying anothers’ company, as if for the first time is pure and unadulterated.
The simple things in life are still the best things after all.. Friendships that span over much time together, vacations shared, and experiences that you have.. the way that you feel when you are with your friends, is a joy that lasts.
Unexpected, and welcome visitors that show up on your doorstep is the stuff that ignites, and blesses your spirit with light, and gratitude. When people take the time… unhurried, and when your Aunt ends up making lunch, instead of you.. this is priceless.
The fact that the naughty beagle steals the grilled cheese and apple sandwich from off the counter only adds to the delight of the day.
I raise a toast to those who go the extra mile, who take the time, who sprinkle their love and warmth… I am grateful.. I am encouraged.
In this season of choices, changes, and new direction, it is so gratifying to feel support, care and understanding from those that we encounter.
Jesus is the reason for the season, and love is what He was born to bring to us…