I’ve written, and saved, and edited, and written a few posts. But I just never get them to the point where I can post them. Life is moving so quickly. My Mom is progressing further into Alzheimer’s and it breaks my heart.
When we went to Easter Vigil, she had no memory of ever going to Church. She had no idea of the story of Christ and His sacrifice. The Church was packed and people had gone outside to process in with the lit Easter Candle. They had scrunched by us, excusing themselves as they went. Less than a minute later, Mom looks around and says, “Boy, there sure aren’t very many people here, are there?” Sigh. We did not last the entire Vigil. Mom was so confused; it was a parish we had never been to; some of their traditions stymied us; and it was 11:00pm and they obviously had a long way to go. It was a sad evening. Our youngest son was working as a fire fighter and was not home, and he had no idea where his “Fireman Boot” basket was, either. It was the first year we did not do Easter baskets and gifts for our kids. It was a weird Lent, and a rather depressing Easter.
Mom did not do well on Easter Sunday. She woke up at 6:30am, even though she did not get into bed until well after 11:30pm. One of the many things I have learned through this caregiving process is that schedules work. Mom needs to be in bed by the same time each night. If not, it takes days to recover. We went to our oldest son’s place for Easter and the great-grandkids wore Mom out. We came home in the early evening, and she fell asleep on the couch. When it was time for bed, I tried to wake her. I called her name, I shook her shoulders – nothing. Finally I really shook her and she had a hard time opening her eyes. When they opened, one eye was looking left and the other was looking right, and her jaw was sort of stuck. I called her name and she shook her head from side to side, and opened and closed her eyes. When she looked again, she was herself. She got up and said, “Time to take my pills and go to bed.” It was as if nothing had happened. The next day, she slept off and on all day. She has been confused ever since. And even today, she has slept most of the day. One time, her eyelids were open and it was sort of scary. This week, in fact, she has been less herself than she ever has, since moving in with us.
The descent into the stages of Alzheimer’s is frightening to those around their loved one. If someone isn’t visited or spoken to by friends and family, they are forgotten. And that creates hurt feeling by those forgotten. But it is not the fault or intent of the person who is forgetting. Their neural synapsis are shutting down. Sometimes they will get a clear signal and know all sorts of fun things you had no idea they would recall. And then there are days with those same synapsis are getting no signals, at all. I have looked into my mom’s eyes and have seen the blank, white-walled mind where there is absolutely no thought taking place. I tried, in vain, to explain something to her when she was like that and realized she was not understanding anything I was saying. *sigh*
I think I am saddest in that we are finding it more and more difficult to communicate. I know soon, we will not communicate much at all, and she eventually will not know who I am. And it seems to be happening quickly.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Caring for someone who is slowly slipping away is so draining. But it is also is an opportunity to learn, and to grow into a better person. And Mom is sharpening my caregiving skills. The ability to not be angry when she will lash out irrationally; when she has no clue what day it was or even where she is; when she accuses me of the stupidest things…all these things are making me a better person. We all know those people, whose presence can bring us peace and calm and joy. Some day, I want that to be me. I want people to think that of me. A safe harbor for others, regardless of their journey. The Lord definitely is working on me. And some days I just want to escape. But caregivers are here for the long haul. We are determined to help our loved ones, regardless of the cost to ourselves.
“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness,faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confessionin the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
“Fight the good fight” means many things to many people. I cannot flee from all of this, because it is my chosen allotment, but I can dig in and work for my Mom’s health and happiness as best I can, keeping our eternities in perspective. I think we all know our moments are limited on this earth, and our lives do not go on forever. Mom knows she is dying. And that it is happening sooner, rather than later. Today she said, “I am so tired of this. I hate my brain. I hate living like this. I am just tired and I am ready to go.” And I recall my great-grandfather saying the same thing, and dying soon thereafter. I know it is coming. Mom knows it is coming. We are just working on the between then and now part. Stay your post; “fight the good fight; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” Mom is heading there. We all are. Mom is just ahead of us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29