Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remembering Mom (A Dementia Story of Love)

Marijo, Marion (mom) and Colette 1950

Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Oh, Lord, I think the most difficult thing about Mom becoming like a toddler was the learning. With a toddler they do something and then learn – they grab the oven door and it is h-o-t. Maybe next time they will not grab it. With a “dementia toddler” they do toddler things, but do not learn. What was “safe” last week, might have changed again this week and they are in trouble. The safety issues never stop.
I remember the time, in the midst of more MD appointments, you spoke softly and encouraged me to “quit with the testing” and enjoy mom while I could. Oh, the RN in me fought that one. Not go to the neurologist and find out what kind of dementia? Not have that tag or label for our family medical history? Help!
I was able to let go of that. Instead of countless doctor appointments we had lunch at Red Lobster and Golden Corral.  The wait staff knew her by name and even what she would order. Some days she had chocolate and ate desert only. Why not? When you are 86 there ought to be some privileges.
Some days she danced in the foyer as we waited for a table. And some days she even remembered her savior and offered to pray for people we met. “Like a little child and of such is the kingdom of heaven” took on a new meaning. There were also the temper tantrum days. On those days, the Lord showed me how well “toddler diversion tactics” usually worked. Change the subject and get her focus on something else…walla!
We made some beautiful memories. Her fingers, grabbing at the cake, because the fork wasn’t working and was not fast enough for chocolate. Then my trying to wash her with the water glass water and napkin, I knew if she tried to stand up the chair would be a new color chocolate. We’d leave a terrible mess for the wait staff.
I was able to cease being embarrassed and laugh with her. It was a joyful time for the most part.
There were times when she motioned for the manager to come over. A rather plump young man arrived at our table. Mom proceeded to grab his elbow and tell him how very handsome he was. As he turned vivid shades of red, I turned so she couldn’t see and mouthed “dementia” to him and thanked him for coming to our table while assuring him that the food was really good.
She had prayed for years that she would go to be with the Lord very quickly. Her prayers became more fervent after she watched my Dad suffer so much before he passed on.
She couldn’t always remember the words she wanted to use, and “you know” became her favorite pass time. “You know what I mean” with those around her then playing a guessing game to fill in the word or phrase for her. Although she often didn’t remember names (her own included) she never failed to greet me and my sister with a very excited “YES! You’re HERE! Oh, I am so glad to see you!!!”
One day we left her assisted living facility for the restaurant. It became clear that she did not know who I was even after I called her mom.
“Who do you think I am?” I queried.
She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t know.
“Mom,” I asked, “Why in the world did you get into this car with me, if you didn’t know who I was?” I was aghast at the potential safely issues this presented.
Her reply was that I seemed like a really nice lady and she didn’t think that was a problem.
We then had a little discussion about going somewhere with strangers. I was very thankful she was in a locked facility and no one could come or go without the code or the staff letting them through the door. This facility had dedicated and incredible staff.
We never found out which specific dementia she had. We found one med that helped her anxiety and paranoia but not her cognitive processes. The family enjoyed her, building a treasure house of memories her last months on this earth.
The Lord answered her prayer. On the day we had praised Him at World Prayer Center, had a fingers-in-the-chocolate-cake giggle day and she had danced instead of walking, she went to meet her Lord.
They found her in the middle of her room on her knees.
The nurse in me still wonders. I know when someone dies the muscles stop working and the body slumps.  Not Mom. She had left her “shell” quite awhile before the girls did rounds and found her in prayer position with no support. She’d gone to be with her Jesus.
No more pain. No more sickness. No more sorrow. No more tears, and eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We miss you, Mom. But we will see you again!
I will be forever thankful, Lord, that I “quit with the doctor appointments”. Please give her a big hug from us and let her know we miss her and are even a little bit envious.
 (C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved - use giving proper credit!


tainterturtles said...

God bless my Aunt Marian.

Yvonne Blake said...

*tears* I wrote about my mother-in-law who also had dementia. We called it Alzheimers, but we're not sure. She praised the Lord up to her dying day.