Finding peace for my mother-in-law is an ongoing battle. She’s almost 95 and she’s getting more confused. She often looks perplexed and says, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.” It has become one of our biggest challenges to find things she still can do, so she can feel satisfied and happy.
She was active with quilting, church activities, puzzles and reading before dementia took it’s toll a few years ago. She’d already given up reading and crossword puzzles before she moved in with us two and a half years ago. Sewing, and even simple jigsaw puzzles, are difficult now.
We’re thankful she’s taken to adult coloring books. She colors every page of every book we have bought for her and treats it like her mission. Sometimes she says it’s fun. Other times I think it just gives her a sense of accomplishment.
She enjoys a few old tv shows, some music, seeing her great-grandchildren, and sitting outside on a nice day. Sometimes she likes to look through her photo album or help mix up a cake.
But her days are still long. And more often we are hearing that refrain, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
I don’t remember having this issue often with my own mom. But it came up now and then. Like the day I wrote about a few years ago, because it had a happy ending…
I was visiting with Mama, sitting next to her and holding her hand, when she abruptly asked, “What do you want me to do?”
I answered with the first thing that popped into my head, “Be happy.”
“I am,” Mom said. And then added, “I did that.” And she looked at me expectantly, like now that she’d done that I should tell her what to do next.
I didn’t know how to respond, so I said, “I love you, Mama.”
“I know,” Mom answered matter of factly.
“Do you know who I am?”
“No,” she said, with no hesitation or remorse.
“I’m Cheryl. Or Sherry. You can call me Sherry if you want.”
Mom was leaning over in her rocking chair, her head almost resting on the arm of her chair. She looked up at me and said, “Sherry…Sherry Lynn?”
And even though in days gone by, hearing my middle name often meant I was in trouble, this time it meant that some part of Mama remembered my name.
And I was happy, too.
I miss my Mama now every day. She went Home to Jesus almost two weeks before Christmas of 2016. Often my mother-in-law’s confusion reminds me of things we went through with Mama. And though I have more experience now, having already completed a “tour a duty”, I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I think I don’t have any.
I often pray words like, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. How are we supposed to handle this? What do You want me to do now, Lord?”
I don’t always get a clear answer. But I know, even when I’m muddling through in my own confusion, that Jesus knows my name. First, middle, and last. He knows everything about me. And He loves me anyway.
And that’s why, when I focus on Jesus and trust Him with everything, I can find peace in this challenging journey of seeking peace for Mom.
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27, NLT