I’m learning lessons of provision, focus, and prayer as we crash into another stage with Alzheimer’s, or maybe back into an old one. And to use my mom’s words, “I hate it! Crazy people! I want to go home! I want my Mama and Daddy!” .
She’s using some other words too. Some I’ve never heard her say before. She’s yelling and hollering a lot. I know she’s scared and confused. I know her anger isn’t really pointed at me, but at her own confusion. But still it’s stressful to be yelled at when you are only trying to help.
I was giving her a bath today, as gently as I know how, and she was screaming. And she yells things like, “Don’t do that to me! Are you trying to kill me! I hate this! Shut up!” In a loud angry voice. And it’s hard to hear that from my gentle, sweet, patient mom.
As I’m getting her dressed she’s screaming and yelling, “Don’t do that! Stop it! I want to go home! I want my Mama and Daddy!”
And I keep helping her, but I’m thinking…I don’t want to be doing this. I want to go home. I want my Mama and Daddy!
And even though I manage to stay patient with my mom, when Dad comes home, from grocery shopping with my brother, I snap at him. And then I want to cry. He’s the hero who is taking care of mom almost 24/7. What’s wrong with me?
A little later I apologize to him. I explain what a hard time I had with Mom. He says, “Oh, she’s like that all the time now.”
“”I know,” I reply. “How do you do it?”
“I pray,”he answers. “Before I go to help her with something I pray and ask God to help me be patient and kind and to not lose my temper. And that helps some.”
I was feeling worn out, and still had to go through the mail with Dad. And then clean the house for them. But my dear daughter, and my son’s sweet girlfriend,came over and offered to help clean. It was easy to accept from my daughter, who has helped often. But I hesitated to have someone outside of the family help. I almost sent her home.
And then I remembered times when I have wanted to be helpful, and it was satisfying to do so. And I knew I could use her help. So I told her where the broom was, and got out a bucket and mop for her. And by the time I went through all the mail with Dad, the girls had the basic cleaning done that would have taken me so much longer to do. I was relieved and encouraged.
Before I left I gave mom a long hug. And she did something unusual. She quietly said, “I love you.” She often responds to my “I love you” with ” I love you, too.” But she said it first this time. She never seemed to know my name today. But she said, “I love you.” With no prompting. And that is a gift. I smiled and I told Dad about it and we were both warmed by the sunshine of it.
And these are the lessons I’m learning in this angry, shouting stage of AD…
I need to accept the help that’s offered sincerely, with a grateful heart, knowing that God provides in many ways and through other people.
I need to look for the bits of sweetness that are still there in Mom’s life and expressions, and embrace them. Maybe if I magnify and focus on the sweet stuff the angry stuff will fade and fuzz in my thoughts and be a blurry background to the better mom memories.
And I need to remember to pray. I can’t afford to forget the power of prayer and God’s presence. I need to cover my mama in prayer. I need to sing His praises in the storm. I need to remember that He is with me, and as I serve my Mama I am serving Jesus. I need to hold fast onto the truth that He is with me, and that I can take refuge under the shadow of His wings, and that He’s always saying, “I love you.” First.