Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mom: The Sequel

This was an accompanying entry I wrote to my blog last night about my mom and Alzheimer's. It is from November of 2005.

In an earlier entry, I wrote about my mother and her battle with Alzheimer's. With some diseases, there seems to be an ebb and flow with up and down times. I can't see that with Alzheimer's. On my third day in St. Louis for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am dismayed at where I see Mom versus where I saw her the last time we were together. With each visit, I am struck by the progression of her condition. If I were an outside observer, some of her behavior would seem fascinating. Yesterday when we returned home from worship, she did not know how to enter the house from inside the garage. Tonight at supper, she stood up to get something and then could not figure out how to sit back down. Eating continues to be an area where the degeneration is evident. Dad says she has no self control when it comes to food; she can't remember that she ate minutes ago. Last night, I found her 'drinking' the container of Tony Chacere's Cajun Seasoning like it was a Coke. At lunch today, Mom put salsa on an Oreo. It's not that those things are dangerous; they just seem humiliating for her. The truth is, I am the one upset.

This afternoon, Dad had counseling appointments so I stayed with Mom. It was nerve wracking. She has wandered off several times in recent months with Dad in the house. He has installed indoor locks at the top of the doors and she still has gotten away. Frantic cruises around the neighborhood and the efforts of local police have returned her safely and she promises Dad it won't happen again. As a precaution, I stacked chairs against the door where she exited last time. I found myself peeking in her bedroom and checking constantly to make sure she was still taking a nap. When she walked around, I monitored her movements. She picked up a picture of herself and Dad. I asked, "Mom, who is in that picture?" She answered as she almost always does when she doesn't know: "What do you think?" She kept looking out the window on a world that makes no sense to her any more. Several hours wore me out. I can only imagine what Dad, and all primary caregivers, endure being on guard every minute of every day. Part of me felt guilty for being happy when his car pulled into the garage and my solo responsibility was completed.

My mother has become passive. In a crowd, she sits and smiles and nods. I sat between Mom and Dad at morning worship yesterday. During the singing, the words are flashed on a screen at the front of the auditorium. She can't figure out the new songs and she doesn't need help with the old hymns. During the collection, she was unsure of whether we put money in or make a withdrawal. During prayer, she wants to hold the hands of those who sit adjacent to her. That would have embarrassed me as a child but charms me as an adult. My folks are very blessed. Their congregation, the Lafayette church of Christ, has embraced them in their ordeal. The women are especially kind and loving to Mom. Before and after services, they shower her with hugs and words of affection. The congregation has a schedule of ladies who sit with Mom when Dad has counseling sessions at his office or has errands to run. The life my mother lived when her mind was as sharp as any built an amazing deposit in the love bank with her sisters in Christ. They are paying her back with interest in a magnificent manner which I know must please our Father in heaven. Most Alzheimer's patients and their families are not so fortunate. I thank the Lord for those who take a heavy load off my father.

There is a book that could be written for each man or woman who falls under the curse of this dreaded disease. Loved ones could fill pages with remarkably similar stories, regardless of the gender or ethnicity of the victim. I love Mom because while she isn't the same, she is. Last night, I found an empty Edy's Ice Cream container on top of the VCR. I know she was trying her best to be useful just as she has been since she was a little red haired girl on a peach farm in Arkansas. It bothers me that I hide my keys and wallet so she won't rearrange them like she does everything else in a desperate attempt to be relevant. We had a Bible study at the house this evening. Each Monday, Dad studies the Scriptures with a new Christian brother from their church. Mom sat on the couch for the entire two hours, fiddling with her buttons and confusing the TV section of the newspaper with the New Testament. Right at the end of the study, Dad was quoting Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. He began the beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart," and he paused. Without missing a beat, Mom finished the verse, "for they shall see God." Mom, He sees you, too.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Let France have good mothers and she will have good sons."
Napoleon Bonaparte

God bless,

Luke 18:1
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Sherry Ann said...

you had a lovely mom... bless you!

Family fun said...

Your mom did seem to know your voice; If I would say "would you like to talk to Steve?" she'd get a glitter in her eye. The fact that you called every night at the same time had a huge meaning to both your parents. Your dad looked forward to your calls every night and if something happened where he wasn't available at the phone when it was time for your call, he got very stressed. He grew to really enjoy using my bluetooth - and I think he was able to hear you a little better with it once he lost his hearing aides. Your comments here speak so gently of your parents - I can only hope that my children feel the same way about me.