Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Dirty little "A" Word

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? --Psalm 56:3-4

I know we are not supposed to hate, but I have a very strong dislike of Alzheimers.  Let me take a little bit of your time to allow you to see a little into the life of one of it's victims.

In the last seven years, I have gradually watched my mom morph from an incredibly independent woman who could and would change her own vehicle's oil, repair her appliances, manage efficiently her finances and life, uber organized to the hilt, to a woman who can no longer recall how to use eating utensils, that she has children, to dress and bathe herself, remember who Jesus is, or recognize the house she spent more than 45 years living in. 

When we brought her to live with us almost two years ago, it was an agonizing struggle on whether we were doing the the right thing.  It is hard to be screamed at, blamed for her current situation, be accused of stealing her money, and even to be hit, knowing she is not in control.  It was terribly difficult for the kids to experience, seeing her like that.  She literally was not aware that the camper in our driveway was for our boys to sleep in, because we had to move her into their room.  That sometimes they had to sleep on the couch when it got really cold, and the reason she couldn't find any knives or scissors was due to our fear she would harm herself or one of us.  To see her live the terror of being so totally lost that reality was fading so quickly. 

This last Wednesday, while visiting Mom, I had to run out to the truck for something, and when I returned, she had no idea that I'd only been gone for a minute and reacted as if she had not seen me for quite a long time.  Today, we arrived to find she was in a state of pure stress.  A fire alarm has gone off during the night, at the nursing facility where she lives.  For safety, all the residents had to be awaken, and taken outside until it was determined safe to return to their rooms.  Each day is new for her, yet disheartening as I watch her decline. Some days she knows she should know me, some she eventually recognizes I'm family, and the ironic thing is she always ask where Honey is, though she doesn't recognize him when he is with me. It's hard not to leave in tears as she clings to me and begs me to help her or take her home.  That we cannot comfort her or eradicate  this horrible disease.  It steals independence and dignity. 

It was so incredibly difficult to bring her to live with us and separate her from the only home, church, the post office, her girlfriend lunches, her birds, seeing her sister, and town she lived in for most her life.  To know how she cries/cried for her sweet sister and something familiar.

We have second guessed ourselves so many times, though we know it was the right thing to do.  See, Alzheimer's not only victimizes the individual, but ensnares the family and friends close to them. The spouse, children/grands, siblings, and close friends,  all slowly lose. To take her away from all she knew was so painful.  She missed her friends and family, her church, house, her town, and routines.  Somewhere along the time, she stopped asking why no one she knew visited and it was sad.  My mom has never been one to be happy relaxing.  She always has to be moving and doing something, and she still does this.  She doesn't know why, but she frets over not getting things done.  She literally cannot relax.  Can I stress to you how important it is to take time to allow yourself to relax and enjoy life a bit?   

I know, there are so many horrific things happening in the world daily, but in our corner of the world, this is our struggle and drama. We never thought it would touch our lives, but yet it has with my mom and Honey's dad.  A double gut punch.  Since Mom does not live with us anymore, the stress and horror of the disease is not so daily present. So, if you happen to see us and/or someone else who has a family member that is living in and through this, we never meant to retreat to our own little world, but it slowly engulfs you, surrounding, smothering, and suffocates.  It becomes your life.  Guilt sets in if I let a few days pass before visiting her, but she has no concept of time, but yet I promise to always go back.  She used to cling to me, walking down the hall till the very last moment when the door shut between us. My last glimpse would be of her, hand cupped over her mouth, sadness pooling in her eyes,  her other hand reaching toward me, as if to hold on for dear life.  The guilt was horrible and she didn't understand why I would leave her there.  

Giggle for the day:  This last year, for her birthday, I saw the perfect card.  If you know my Mom, she always has a thing for cowboys, hats, and boots.  We had to have Honey stop wearing boots when he went with me or should would make doe eyes at him.  So, this card was a *eh hem* hot young shirtless cowboy, standing beside this gorgeous white horse.  We giggled with anticipation
knowing she was going to make a HUGE deal over the cowboy.  She never even looked at him.  She only had eyes for the horse and petted the picture while talking to it.  When we asked her about the cowboy, she said, "Why, I don't know him."    

Now before I leave you downhearted  and regretting you stopped by today, sometimes the only things we can do is laugh or smile, because if we don't, we become lost ourselves. Let me confess that we do have times of laughter or smiles - it's at the silly and often childlike things that Mom says or does.  We're not making fun of her, but it doesn't help to be so glum around her all the time.  
She needs a smile, dancing in the hallway, some Elvis music, and a hug.  We all do (minus the Elvis music). 

Blessed be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed by Your name

Blessed be Your Name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your Name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise 
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say... 

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

[Verse 2]
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
      Matt Redman

1 comment:

Raine said...

Tears filled my eyes because of the pain everyone close to you and my favorite Aunt has experienced because of this horrific disease. You have done the right thing and I commend you for your love and care that you still do for her. Your family is amazing and you all will be blessed greatly for your act of love and kindness.