Thursday, March 27, 2014

lost

Even though I've been losing my Mother for over seven years. Even though I've been here, in the front row seat, totally aware of the tiny bit-by-bit degeneration of her intellect and abilities. Even though I knew that dementia had no cure, and the only way "out" of dementia was death. Even though we had a lovely memorial service for my Mother; honoring and remembering the nice, kind, creative woman she once was...

 I feel a deep, sad desire to say goodbye to my Mother.

I feel that I've lost her and I don't know where she is. She's been my responsibility for so long. I have this lost feeling, like I've lost my purse or house keys. I know something important is missing, is gone, and I can't find it.

Is it because dementia has been a series of many little goodbyes?

Is she haunting me, is there something I forgot to do, something she needs me to do?

I'm beginning to hate the sympathy cards that come to the house. Well, yes, no, I'm grateful to everyone, they have been so kind and thoughtful.

But I want to scream. NO! I was not a good daughter! I blew it. I hated her dementia even more than she did. I hated what it did to her. I could do NOTHING to stop it. I could NOT make it go away. I could NOT make her better. I could NOT fix it. I could NOT make her pain go away. I could NOT help her.

I lost.
I lost the game, the task, the job.
I lost my Mother.

Please hold in your hearts the firefighters who died this week in Boston, the people of Snohomish county engulfed by a mudslide, and all who are lost.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the chapter about the valley

This has been just a piece of the journey of our life together, my Mother and me; one chapter in her life, one chapter in my life.

Dementia is only one chapter.  It is not the chapter about her being a school teacher or the chapter about her being a world traveler. It is not the chapter about my time as a college student or my time as a young mother.  We've had common chapters before:  we lived together for eighteen years, she was my Girl Scout leader, she is my sons' grandmother. Her telling of these stories would be as different as my telling of these tales.  And so it is now.
This part of her story and this part of my story, is all about her trip through dementia.

We have been through the "valley of the shadow of death". The twists and turns, dark corners, and dead end side canyons. Those folks at the top of the canyon, looking down, they can't always see us, they can't always yell down encouragement and directions.  We cannot always see the footprints of those who have traveled this way before us, it is so dark. We cannot see the light of the sky because this canyon is so dark and deep, and full of shadows. We cannot tell false side canyons from the way out, places where we may become lost. The side walls are so steep, so unclimbable, so slippery, we had to persevere.

On her trip through dementia I had to walk beside her.
Sometimes I could not see her beside me. Sometime she didn't know that I was beside her. Many times, in her demented anger, she did not want me on this journey with her, many times she tried to push me away, in her fierce independence she wanted to do it her way and alone. But I had to walk beside her, to the end.

Now that our journey together has ended, as we come out of the dark canyon, our paths will diverge, she will go her way and I will go mine.
Just as our paths diverged when I left home to go away to college.

This chapter of our life together is over.

Recommended reading: "Tears in God's Bottle" by Wayne and Ann Ewing


Monday, March 10, 2014

laughing

I told my husband last night, "I haven't laughed so much in a long time."
Oh, my! What a synopsis to a this past week. But it's true.

Yes there were many, many tears, if you read this blog you know I cry a lot, so much, even now.



But, to have my brother here with me all week, and then to have his wife and daughters join us, and stay at my home; it brought me such joy. To have our sons with us; to see my daughter-in-law aglow with our growing grandchild; it brought me joy. Visiting with our friends, Mom's friends, family, cousins from far away... all gathered together to remember Mom; it was such a comfort.

To share the sad stories, to remember her dementia; brought us all to tears. But even better, to have friends and family remind me of how Mom use to be, to remember her, is such a gift.

Even to share some of the more absurd times of Mom's journey through dementia, we could all laugh together.  

To have folks share memories of Mom; the teacher, the puppeteer, the creative and outgoing lady she was.  Thank you all so much.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

free at last

She's free. Free at last, free at last.

Mom passed away this morning. 

She caught a mighty bit of pneumonia on Friday and it was too much for her.