It has been awhile since I’ve posted, partly because of commitments I have to family during the summer, but also because things have been pretty good for my Mom. There just hasn’t been much to share.
In some ways Mom is slipping. She has had some minor falls and has a hard time pulling up any memories, including her long term memory, which up until now was fairly intact. But, she has been happy and funny. Even though she can’t carry on a true conversation, she can still surprise you with witty one-liners that cause you to bust a gut with laughter. Her whole face lights up when I walk in the door and while she doesn’t make much sense, the connection is undeniable. I’ve been able find peace in that. So much so, that I sometimes almost forget. I almost forget that my mother is slowly dissolving before me.
Then, something happens where I have to realign this new mother I’ve grown to know and love, with the mother she used to be…and I remember how much I have lost. In two weeks my daughter will get married. Thankfully, Mom is going to be able to attend the ceremony with some assistance. Although, I am happy she will be able to be there, the truth is Mom won’t really be able to grasp the joy of what is happening. To her the church will be a sea of strangers mixed together with some familiar faces. By the time she wakes up the next morning, the memory will be gone.
It is here my two realities collide –loving the woman I know and missing the woman I’ve known. I always recognize this is happening when the tears begin to live just below the surface. It is in these moments that I remember I am partly orphaned. When I want more than anything to curl up beside her on the couch and listen to her stories, but the stories are gone. I want to ask, “What was I like as a young bride?” but I know that Mom has already passed on, leaving behind this partial Mom-child.
I wish I could tell her, “I miss you, Mom, (even though you are still here).
I miss your wisdom, your stories and your comfort. I miss the way you worried about me and prayed for all your children and grandchildren by name. I miss seeing you scurry about the house Dad built and swinging with you on the front porch. I miss being the child instead of the mother. I miss YOU!”
Dementia is a terrible thing!
BUT, tomorrow is another day. Life goes on and just like other caregivers do, I will get up and try to find the joy hiding in all the sorrow. Tomorrow, I will go and see the mother that is still present in this life and be thankful for the connection that remains.
I will whisper Thanks be to God.