I try my best to write from a positive lens. Everyone in
this room knows that aging, sickness, dementia and loss is rotten. It doesn’t
seem helpful for me to state the obvious. So, as best as I can, I attempt to
find and share my observations from a place of hope.
That might be why there are gaps in between my writings.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the hope in Mom’s dementia. As we come around
the corner to Canadian Thanksgiving, sometimes it is difficult to FEEL
While my mother’s capacity has diminished, for the most part
as she carries on she is content. She smiles and enjoys the people in the LTC
home, she enjoys music, exercise, baking, dancing, church services and Bible
studies, joking with the staff and visiting with family. She lives safe and
warm in her big bright private room and yet so much of her is gone. I miss
those parts of Mom so much.
In John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars, (without
spoiling the ending) one of the characters in the book reflects on what it
feels like to lose someone you love by stating, "The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was
no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant
losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and less
important than they had been before.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
The loss of Mom’s memories is also the loss of mine. Not a
single person in the entire planet shares the memories that I share with Mom.
She was there when I was born weeks early at 3 lbs 4 ounces and placed in an
incubator. She was behind the camera as I got on the bus for Kindergarten and
rocked me in the green chair when that mean girl on the school bus slapped me
in the ear. She was my biggest champion for years, my confident and friend and
the voice in my head. So many times I struggle to recollect a memory or think
to share something about a person only we both know – only to realize I have
lost the pleasure to remember with Mom – as if the moment never was.
Last week, when I visited Mom was a little edgy and
impatient with me. She was hard to find and I found myself too tired to really
look for her. But some days, I get a
Two weeks ago, my favourite smiling-red-head-singing,
Bible-preaching-volunteer was at the nursing home leading a Bible study and
sing-song. The songs she was singing so
joyfully were right out of Mom and my past. Praise choruses written in the 70’s
and 80’s and old beloved hymns that transported me to the days Mom and Dad
pastored the Monkton Pentecostal Church.
For just those few
moments we were transported. Mom sang every word of those long (for me)
forgotten songs at the top of her voice, smiling…and co-remembering with me.
The interaction so special I almost wanted to hold my breath…and then it was
I am not a wonderful daughter. I get tired, impatient, sad
and sometimes I even have to stay away. But, thankfully when I dust myself off
and try again – I blessed and for just that moment I "see” her (the Mom who has
gone away) ….and I remember who I am.