I am not sure if we engineered this stuff, or if God has had a hand in it, but it is sort of freaking me out. We have 2 pets – a dog and a cat. The dog is an English Springer. And boy, she could not be more perfect for our family if we tried. We adore her. Her name is Pocahontas and we call her Poca. She is a rescue. We got her out of Idaho when our youngest son was just 12. She was five years old at the time and is now 12 years old. She is getting more white on her face and has become our couch potato and carpet hog. We love her so much, but are sad because we can see her aging right in front of us.
Then there is our cat. To be honest, she is my cat. She was labeled a “scaredy cat” by our vet a few years ago. She will not come into a room where strangers are. Even my son’s girlfriend, who has been coming around for months and months, she is afraid of. She will stay in the room when my mom is here, but I think it is because my mom is so tiny and quiet, compared to the rest of us. Her name is Rosie. We have had her 14 years now. And she is getting so old. She is having a hard time digesting her food and is getting so skinny. And clingy. The minute I slow down, she is on me…my lap, my foot, pawing at my arm to hold her. Ha-Ha. I adore this cat. But she can be a stinker! She sleeps on me, all curled up at my side, or behind my knees, all night, every night. Last night she insisted on sleeping on the top of my pillow with her back to me, and I kept getting woken by her hair in my face. But when I moved her, she would inch her way back to that same spot. So I rolled over! LOL! This winter she has taken to napping on a heater vent (ours are on the floor) in whatever room I am in.
And in August, we welcomed my mom into our family. She is 88 years old. She has Alzheimer’s. Some days are close to impossible. Some days are a joy. And we have watched her, in just these few months, age before our eyes. Her capacity for life has greatly diminished. The medications she takes are imperative for a smoother day. I learned the hard way, by running out of one of them, for just a single dosage. And it has taken the past 3 days to get her back on track. And it has been ugly. Truly ugly. And my mom follows me when I leave the room for too long. I have to tell her where I am going. If I leave the house and someone stays with her (currently that falls to another family member) she thinks I am gone for the whole day. She then questions me constantly and follows me around the house, until (I think) she re-assures herself I am not leaving again. Today we filed her nails and repainted them and she is so happy. We are watching “Holiday Inn” because she adores Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Sadly, I know pretty much this entire movie by heart. LOL. But it works! It keeps her happy – in between her naps. So many during the day, I have lost count, and quit counting.
What I want to share is that as people with Alzheimer’s get further and further into the disease, they sleep. A lot. And I have the habit of taking photos of my mom while she sleeps. She doesn’t believe me, that she sleeps a lot. So I take her photo to show her. She still doesn’t believe me. I just chuckle. Now I work around her deep naps. Trust me, when she is sleeping, she is out. It looks like someone sleeping for the night. And when she wakes up, she is smiling and putting her hands in that pyramid formation she loves so much, watching what is going on around her. Whenever she sits, she holds her hands in the same way…in the car, on the couch, in a restart, while walking…hands always together, nails intertwined and she is playing with her nails…constantly. Constantly.And today, as my cat threw up yet another type of food for sensitive tummies, my dog laid sprawled on the carpet, my mom startled herself awake and got her hands in that same position, I noticed that they are all slowly leaving me. Leaving us. They are all close to their last breath. We all are, but they are even more so. The timing sort of stinks. And I thought of that saying, “Things happen in 3’s” and I looked at these three. And I worry that when one goes, it will be like dominoes. And I am not sure my heart will do well. At all.
Before you think badly of me, I am not equating human life the same as a cat or dog. No. But the emotional tug on your heart when you own pets and they become such an integral part of your life is strong. And when you have to face their deaths, it leaves a sizable hole. We are looking towards the future of the “empty nest” once again. When my mom passes on, and our pets are gone, our youngest son will more than likely be out on his own, and it will be just me and the hubby. And the hole in my heart will be sizable.
Today we had a decent snow storm. We got about 8 inches or so. And it was sort of a fun environment. And now the snow has stopped and the sun is blazing away. It is gorgeous. When you live in a land of seasons, it cannot help but remind you of the cycles of our lives, too. My mom’s doctor told me, “Your mom is slowly falling asleep. Don’t expect her to learn anything new. Everything she knows in this life, she already knows. Don’t expect her behavior to change back to anything you had with her as a child. Slowly, she will sleep more often, and deeper. One of her sleeps will be her final one and she won’t wake up.” She said that Alzheimer’s is like falling asleep…like falling asleep. When I look at it like that, it helps make sense of it. And as I watch my dog and cat snooze their afternoon away in the sunshine, I know that one day they will not wake up, either. It is like all these things are ending at the same time. Our pets, my mom, our youngest child leaving the nest. How will I deal with this, when they all occur? I have no idea. Truly no idea.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…” Deuteronomy 30: 19
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5: 24
“…for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14: 8
And so what do I have left? Trust. Trust in the Word of God and His promises for all of us. He will not give us more than we can handle (1 Cor 10: 13) and He will lead us through the Darkness to Eternal Light, in His Presence (John 8:12). And to these things I cling. And now, as “Singing in the Rain” finishes up (because Holiday Inn finished and she wanted more singing and dancing to entertain her), I will guide my mom to washing her face and brushing her teeth, even though it is almost 4:00pm. Today, she stayed awake through two entire movies, laughing, smiling, and singing along with them. And that is a good day in Alzheimer’s World. It is actually a good day, period.