I am exhausted. I spent a lot of time with my mom’s doctor today. I find it so amazing that her doctor will spend over two hours with us. That is just not normal. We are blessed to have found this woman. She is a godsend and one of my anchors in this Alzheimer’s journey with my mom.
Today, I discovered my mom has pretty much forgotten the past 65 years. Yeah. That is pretty much my lifetime and then some. She could not remember if she had kids with my dad. Then she said, “Wait. I had a boy and a girl.” After a few more questions and non-answers with the doctor, she looked at me and said, “She is my daughter.” Whew. But when she is asked where she lived, she says she is from New Zealand. Period. When the doctor asked her where she moved to from New Zealand, she said the United States. And then when pushed, she said, “Somewhere like LA, I guess.” But when the doctor pushed her on that, she just said, “I lived in Auckland.” (In New Zealand). She did not know her last name. She said she was born as a Chappell. She kept looking to, and asking me, and the doctor told her to stop looking at me for answers. Ha-Ha. Mom got mad. And trust me, you do not want to make her mad! The doctor laughed cuz mom was so mad. Ha-Ha. Then she said, “I don’t care about any of that. It is over. It is the past. All that matters it right here and right now.” Which got me thinking.
“…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” Philippians 3:13-14
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
“Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
Now I am not saying my mom is prophetic, but this Alzheimer’s thing makes a point. Most Alzheimer’s patients do live in the moment. Because the moment is all they know and have a handle on. Five minutes ago is forgotten; they cannot plan tomorrow. Each moment is their total world. If I get angry at my mom, in 2-3 minutes the entire world will have changed for her. We had a particularly rough day a week ago. And I mean, it was horrific. Profanity-laced words were thrown at both sides, from both sides. Tears and slamming doors. And that night, as I kissed her goodnight, she did two things. She hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you for today. I had such a wonderful day.” And I just pulled away and looked at her, and she was looking at me with so much love, that my heart just melted. And then she said, “I love you. God bless you.” And I nearly fell apart in guilty tears. Because she had completely forgotten the day, but the past 2-3 minutes had been lovely, and that was her world; her entire day had been those 2-3 minutes that had just passed. The here and now. The moment. It is all she has. And soon, those moments of clarity will dwindle even more.
The Lord asks us to stop looking behind us, and look ahead. When we seek His forgiveness, He does not hold onto our past sins. It is as though they never existed. When we honestly and fervently seek forgiveness, the Lord throws it out of our timeline. It never happened. We are the ones who cling to past mistakes and past hurts. My mom thought I had been gone all day, when I was only away from her for 2 hours. Because her world had completely changed 40 times, literally, in the 120 minutes I had been gone. (120 divided by 3 – which is her attention span/awareness time – equals 40). And how can I get angry at that?
The Lord, well He gives us this amazing opportunity every year…Great Lent. We get to change our lives. We get to walk away from the person we were, at the start, and come through these 40 Days a new person. We can walk away from our past timeline, and start a new one. If we all live in the moment, and work to be the best we can be in each of those moments, what an amazing world this would be. My mom, in her illness, is still mothering me. She is showing me how to love unconditionally, even when she makes it so hard. She is teaching me to live in the moment and live it to its fullest. Because, as the doctor said, she is slowly falling asleep and one day, in the very near future, she may not wake up again. But, when I thought about all of this, I thought, “Aren’t we all just gradually falling asleep”?