The lenses through which we view our world are different for every person. And sometimes, like our annual eye exam, our prescription changes. My youngest son had his eyes examined yesterday and his vision has greatly improved. We were all so happy for him. My eyesight seems to have settled down and evened out a little bit. Thank goodness, because without glasses, I am legally blind. LOL. I have always been made fun of for the thickness of my lenses. I was so happy when they made the new compact lenses. And it has been a scientific miracle that allows me to see, to enjoy this beautiful world, and to read books – my singular joy in life. I read every, single night. Praise God for my glasses!
As all of us view what is in front of us, we have a tendency to peek over the shoulders of the guy next to us, trying to see what they see. Sort of like looking at someone else’s test paper in school. And trust me, nothing good ever comes from thinking you can copy someone else! And so it is with choices and decisions people make. Sometimes, from where someone else is standing, they look at you and completely disagree with your choices in life. But you see (no pun intended) they are not looking and seeing, using your eyes. They are looking with their own eyes, using their prescription for life. And my life is nothing like yours. You did not have my parents, lived where I lived, had the life experiences I have had, nor have the same choices to make within the framework that is my life. You look over my shoulder, and the view is so very different from where I sit. And please know, it would be the same for me – if I chose to look over your shoulder, and look at your test paper.
My mom, as those of you who have read my posts before, has late stage Alzheimer’s. She will be 89 next month. I took her to the monthly foot clinic at the doctor’s the other day. Getting back out onto the highway was quite something. There is always a stream of cars, and no one wants to let you merge. Well, my-late-stage-Alzheimer’s-mom proceeded to give me driving lessons. Ha-Ha. I reminded her that I got my driver’s license in 1973 and have been a successful driver for 45 years. Her reply? “That doesn’t make you an expert!” She barely took a breath as she explained how to successfully merge with traffic. My point is that from mom’s point of view, she knew better than I did how to drive and merge with traffic. She was seeing me drive, using her eyes, not mine. Side seat driver! Ha-Ha!
We all think we know best. Look at all the chaos in the world. We have taken our “selves” to such a level, we cannot see any other thing or way, but our way, our view. People are comfortable when we all stay in our prescribed lanes; on the tracks and in the direction expected of us. And when we veer off the tracks and head in a different direction, it can freak people out. They are out of their comfort zone now, because they cannot easily see over my shoulder; my test paper is blurred.
I recently chose to place my mom into a memory care facility. It is seriously the most difficult thing I have ever chosen to do. I veered off the track of the plan mom and I had made for her “end-of-life” experience. I have changed the end of her life. And it weighs on my heart. And so many people have opinions about it. To be honest, no one knows what dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is really like if they do not live with you 24/7. Visiting a memory home is so stressful; yes, it is. But dealing with that person from the moment they wake until you tuck them safely into bed each night is a completely different ballgame, my friends. It truly is. Every need they have, you have to provide. One of the most horrible things someone can say to me is, “Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I saw that once.” Sigh. No clue. Or people who claim to be experts because they perhaps drove people to doctor’s appointments or did their laundry. And if you visit your loved one at a memory facility, that is a snippet of their day. A snippet. Not the day. And people seem to think telling me where I am making a mistake is okay, even though they do not wear my prescription, nor do they walk in my shoes. They are peeking over my shoulder, cheating their way to an opinion. And I am physically and emotionally reaching the end of my proverbial rope here.
Luke 6: 27-49
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
And so I re-evaluated my choices, using a lens the Lord provided to me – that of a loving child to a mother lost in the chaos of Alzheimer’s disease. Each day, it steals more of her from me, from our family. Each day, she is present less and less. The world confounds her. She knows, on some level, she has no control. Today, she asked me where the man was who was just here. Both my husband and son had recently left (son to the Fire House; hubby to shooting range) and so I was not sure who she meant. Then she said, “Well, I suppose it is not time for the others to be here. People come and go all day long at this place.” And I realized she had no idea where she was, again. And then I noticed she was tying and untying, and re-tying her robe. I asked her if she needed help. She responded with, “I’m not an idiot. I have been doing this all my life. My lipstick is in my pocket. Oh, was that a knock on the door? Did you know it is almost 6 o’clock?” Wow.
And even though others may think I am making a poor decision, with my tri-focals firmly in place, and the road meandering ahead, I still choose to move mom into a Memory Care Facility. It may be 5 minutes away from our home, or it could be 45 minutes away, but when mom lives there full time, we will all be happier. She will find peace, because she is not at peace here, in my home. Once she is settled in, I can return to the visiting daughter, enjoying the snippets of our time together. And moving forward, I see clearly that this is the path we are meant to travel down. And I am using my own eyes, and not peeking over anyone’s shoulder.