I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:6 NLT
The ups and downs of the mind and heart are difficult enough when we have control of our thoughts and have the ability to make wise decisions. What about those with dementia? My mother has an incredibly smart and wise mind… or had, I should say. The dementia has changed things though. Some days, the clarity is near crystalline. More days than not, now, are murky as the Gulf waters. Murky like unable to see clearly from the outside, yet from her mind, she seems clear and right, correct in all she pronounces ‘truth’.
Yesterday, I had been to have lunch with Mama and I could tell that Tuesday was not one of her clear days, but it did not seem terribly murky, at least yet. A couple of hours later, C called me from her cell phone while in Mom’s room. C is a wonderful CNA who has cared for and about Mom for the past two plus years. She loves my mother. (When the Admin toyed with an idea to move Mom to the other nurse station, C spoke up and said, “No, please don’t take her from my hallway. She is one of the few I can talk to and love and she loves me back.” When Admin told me that, tears broke from my ducts like a torrent.) So when C calls, she tells me that Mom is terribly confused, looking for her husband and was wandering around in her wheelchair all over the nursing home looking for him. We have struggled with this issue as she got it in her head that a certain male CNA was her husband. We have been reminding her that my Dad was her husband and is deceased. As I talked to her, I got a better picture of Mom’s mind-full, the cluttering of overload, the impurities of the mind running amuck. As she allowed me to speak, I shared some of the truth … her husband deceased since 1960, the other man … a CNA working on the other side or gone home by now. Then she questioned “the girls” which turned out to be us, her three daughters … one in Kauai, just gone home from here, one in San Diego at work or school, and me at home with Kenneth. She was so sure that there were plans that she must attend to and we all were a part of them. “No, Mama. You are ok right there. We just had lunch together two hours ago. It is not meal time yet. They will come and let you know. No lunch with your girls now.”
“Well, am I crazy?”
“No, Mama. You are just a little confused.”
“That’s crazy and you might as well put me in an asylum.”
“Oh, Mom. No, you are just a little confused.” “Yes, I need to go to an asylum.”
Oh, my heart ached so deeply.
She suddenly wanted to get off the phone and said “goodbye.” I told her “I love you, Mama.” She did reciprocate.
C got back on the phone and talked a bit, said she would try to get Mom to take a nap. Then, suddenly, C said, “Oh, she is crying.”
She was crying. My mother rarely cries. Has rarely cried. When my father died, she did not cry in front of us children. She needed to be strong, she thought. My heart said she needed to teach me that crying was ok. That God gave us the ability to cry.
So here she is in the nursing home with dementia and is crying because she is losing her mind. Yes, she is gradually losing her mind. Oh, such a slow agony. I ask God for mercy. I ask God to hold her.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails. Psalm 71:9 NKJV
Tonight she is extremely sleepy, barely able to hold her head up while eating her dinner. I wheel her back to her room. I undress her and ready her for bed. She rolls in and is asleep in less than five minutes… sound asleep. It is only 7:00 PM. Her cycles run like a roller coaster. Clarity. Confusion. Hyperactive. Sleepless. Wild ideas. Sleeping all day. Predictable, not predictable. The mind is so powerful. God created a beautiful piece of machinery in our brains. It also deteriorates with age sometimes. For my Mama, it is happening and ever more so with each day. She is old. She is beautiful. She is precious in His eyes, in my eyes. She is my mother. I am her eldest child, her firstborn. I struggle so to see her suffer, to question herself so. Life should not have to end like this. I think these thoughts because I am human, because I live in a fallen world. I want life differently for my Mama. I want her mind to be refreshed, clear as the azure blue Pacific, not like these Gulf waters.
Heavenly Father, You know my mother. You created her. She is a rose in Your garden. She is beautiful. She is a blossom and sparkles for us. On those days where she doesn’t sparkle so much, she touches my heart with her heart. It is Your hand to mine that I am feeling and I thank You, my LORD. Please hold her ever-so-closely that she would feel Your very Presence, Your strength and love. Please cup her mind in the palms of Your mighty hands and give her freshness and clarity. Let her know that You are caring for her. O God, hold me too. Catch my tears, her tears too. I need You to give me strength for each day, for each hour as I tenderly care for her. The emotions, the roller coaster rides she takes, the frustration with her body and her mind … please give me wisdom and understanding in order to be there for her in those needs. I love her so very much. When I know not what to do or say, when I cannot be there with her, even when I do not even know what she is going through because I am not there 24/7, please, God, take care of her. Hold me too. Use me for Your glory, mold me into the tender, kind, gentle, joyful, patient, loving, grace-filled, peaceful person that my mother may need at the given moments of her day. She is my rose. Oh, she is my rose. The fragrance of her beauty. The essence of her love for her daughters, for her precious children. She has loved us so, still loves us so. I ask all in Your Son’s Strong Name. Amen.