I thought I was prepared for anything my mother might say or do, but nothing was farther from the truth. The very core of my heart shattered when I realized she no longer recognized me or my two sisters.
“You sure are sweet.” She looked at me with a distant gaze and smiled.
“Thank you. I take after my mom.”
She smiled again. “That’s nice.”
I questioned, “Do you know who my mother is?”
She squinted her eyes, “Hmm, I’m thinking.”
Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a sad and heartbreaking disease. Medication has done little to slow its thieving, memory-snatching process for Mother’s condition. In addition to her limited memory, any deviation from her regular routine throws her into a tailspin, anxiety engulfs her, and more memory disappears.
I suppose one consolation to me and my two sisters is that she still calls us on our cell phones and she seems to know who she called. Therefore, we take advantage of those cherished moments before they, too, fade from her memory.
“Good morning.” Her voice sounded cheerful over the phone.
“Good morning, Mother. How are you today?”
“I didn’t sleep good, but that’s okay. How’s Loretta?” She questions.
“I’m doing well, mother, I am Loretta.”
“No, the other Loretta. There are two Loretta’s. I’m talking about the one who came to stay with me.” Frustration inched its way into her voice.
“Mother, I am Loretta, I am your daughter, and I am the one who came to stay with you.”
A huff sounded. “I don’t want to talk about this.” The line went dead.
A sigh slipped from my lips as I blinked tears away. Reality of the diseases’ progression in mother’s mind . . . hurts. But, I’m not alone. My dad, my sisters, and our spouses feel the devastation as we exchange concerned glances.
Like me, there are many of you who have experienced or are presently experiencing a loved one suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. You know the uncertainties, the fears, and the feelings of helplessness. You know about their aimless wandering, small steps scooting across the floor, and blank stares.
Like me, you’ve realized reasoning with your loved one isn’t what it used to be. Now, you must revert to soft tones, child-like understanding, and a ton of patience as you hear the same stories repeatedly in a matter of minutes.
Repeat after me . . .
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Say it again…
Isn’t it reassuring to know that even though our bodies weaken and our memory fails, God will always remember us? Just like He knew us while we were still in our Mother’s womb.
“He remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:23 NIV).
My hope is in Him. What about you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, your experiences, and your suggestions. Feel free to leave a comment below.