Today my daughter came home from feeding Mama breakfast excited to share the news. “Mom,” she said, her face glowing, “Grandma smiled today!”
Neither of us had seen Mom smile for months, maybe longer. We had pretty much decided she didn’t know how any longer. “What?! Grandma smiled?” I asked, teary eyed with awe.
“Yes,” Annie said. “I was telling the hospice aid about Grandma and mentioned the town where Grandma grew up in Louisiana and she smiled! She didn’t show her teeth, but she smiled!”
We were both so thrilled! And I so wished I had seen it, too. We wondered if it had anything to do with the new anti-anxiety medication that Mom had started last night.
A couple hours later I went over to feed Mom lunch. And in the middle of it she looked right at me and smiled! A closed mouth smile–but definitely a smile! I was so thrilled! It was like the first time I saw my first child smile in recognition of me. It so delighted my heart!
And then a second later Mama hollered in complaint again. But I had seen that precious smile.
Mama also seemed more talkative today. She said, “I need something.”
“What do you need, Mama?”
“Something for me,” she replied, but she couldn’t tell me what.
“Are you in there?” Mama asked me.
“Yes, Mama, I’m here.”
At one point Mama seemed irritated and I asked, “Am I annoying you, Mom?”
And she answered, “It’s possible.”
And this whole conversation actually makes more sense than most of ours have lately.
But her walking and standing were too scary tonight. So we propped her up in bed and fed her there. And I scrambled to mix an Ensure with some ice cream to get more of something in her, before she dozed off.
And then I cuddled up next to her in bed and put my head against her shoulder and quoted some Bible verses and sang some hymns as I held Mama’s velvety soft hand and as I stroked her hair and as I blinked back tears.
I came home exhausted, grateful my husband had picked up supper and ready to crash. This time of hospice is hard stuff. But God is with us. And His angels surround us. And the prayers of His people lift us.
And for TWO brief shining moments, Mama smiled!
You are an amazing woman. An inspiration to all who are or have gone through that painful season with a loved one. May God richly bless you.
You are so kind, Vickie. I don’t feel amazing at all. I feel so weak in fact. But I know God is with me and He is strong and I’m counting on His grace. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. May He richly bless you as well!
Have to say this post was a timely one for me since my mother left her frail earthly dress and soured to heaven just a few days ago. It’s feel strange for it’s not a place I have been before, no mother on this earth.
I found I had to face up to the guilt that comes when you place your loved one in a nursing home. Then grief comes next as the days, months, years go by and they are still in there. My mother had dementia which was not aggressive at first. She begin to actually care for others who were worst then her. She was super friendly, loved to go to bingo, singing, any kind of activity there was. But she still wanted out of there , wanted to go back to her little apartment she lived in before the nursing home. About six months ago she begin to get very aggressive, throwing things, trying to hit the nurses, they could not put a room mate in with her because of this. The dementia begin to take over her mind, she told one nurse she had killed her Mom and Dad, told me someone else killed them. Then two months later she begin to go to bed after breakfast, sometimes slept through dinner, eating very little. I realized she was in the early stage of dying. That body which encased my mother spirit begin to give up or so it seemed. Give up is not the right word, it was a time of reflection, a time to withdraw from people. When I called her she would hardly say a word, so unlike her. It got worst and worst and two and half weeks ago I went to be with her, I live across country from her. I am so thankful to have been there for some of Mom’s dying process for God taught me so much about Him and life. I have an 8 ,month grandson who is the process of living as my mother was in the process of dying. What really struck me is how there is an order to each process. Thing grow and multiply in our grandson, things shut down in my Mom. I ask God to take her before her mind went because she would not have wanted to be one of those that yelled and cussed others and no one wanted to be around. I tried to never tell her she was wrong when she told me off the wall things, usually tried to say, tell me more about it Mom, or changed the subject, I fully realized the one speaking was not my Mom, it was the dementia speaking.
She as in such pain the last few weeks and soon we said yes to morphine and to be quite honest I am not sorry. I know she would to the same for me if the roles were reversed. About four days before she died she had a day, you know, a day when she was more alert. We sang songs and I have a wonderful video clip of her singing with me and remembering the verse when I didn’t. Of course there was still the dementia that kept cropping up, one minutes singing the next tell me me shut the hell up. It was a moment of laughter for my son and I because he was in the room too. After that, she slipped more and more into a place I believe she was without pain, only moaning when they turned her because she had a nasty bed sore. I knew this was not about quality of life, it was about the body giving up life. I kept telling her I would not leave her, she would not be alone and that soon she would see her MOm and Dad and others she loved. And that I would follow soon after, I told her over and over it was ok to leave us, we would be fine, we would see her later. Finally the process begin to speed up, breathing took on a different sound till there was no breathe left in her body. I cannot explain the peace I felt, that could only come from the hope I would see her again. My faith grew by leaps and bounds and as my children watched me take care of her those last days theirs grew too. I can just see my kids doing for me what I did for my mother…they will say the same to me.
Writing has helped me a lot and given me strength to miss her. I do not grieve she has went to heaven but I do have missing her grief and I think that will stay with me till it’s my turn to go. People ask me, does you Mom have cancer, or is her heart bad. My answer no, she died from age related ailments. Did she just give up? I can say without a doubt it was not in her character to give up. Illness take on a personality too as it ravages a person mind and body. And according to the Bible these bodies we run around in were not meant to last, we begin dying the minutes we are born.
I met with a couple of friends today for lunch and felt like I was outside the conversation unless they ask me a question about my mother. Not sure when my heart will fully join the world but I know it will because I focus on being thankful for my Mom’s 89 years, the things she taught us, and that she no longer is in pain and experiencing something I cannot even grasp right now. The Bible says, we only see the fringes of God’s power and grace here on earth, she is seeing all of His power and grace.
Thanks for providing this post that allows me to write as I sort out this living with out my mother here. I know I have gained an understanding that God will use to help others. Thank you.
May God comfort you, Betty. I’m so sorry for your loss. ~Cheryl
My prayers are with you.. have you read the studies on coconut oil for Alzheimer’s? Gods creation has helped many.. while traditional medications, some found it made their loved ones worse..
Mary: pennies for dreams. com
Yes, we do use coconut oil but haven’t noticed that it has changed anything. Thanks for the suggestion though. ~Cheryl
I am sorry to be a pain.. but have you researched statin drugs? I saw an MRI of a statin user, and it showed holes in the brain.. It is refreshing to read about your Faith.. and the Lord being your strength..
Precious post! Tears and prayers.
Thank you, Joyce!