“I love you, too…I hope.”

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About a week ago my daughter and I were sitting out on the deck with my 95 year old mother-in-law, enjoying conversation. Mom got restless and looked concerned.

“Are you ok?” I asked

She looked over at the door to the house and seemed about to get up. “It seems like there should be a place where I could go and be with family and talk.”

“You are,” I said. “We are your family and we are talking with you.” But she couldn’t comprehend that. She went in the house, looking for her family.

This is very common for us these days. I imagine it is for many families dealing with dementia. I remember being unknown by my own mom, and how painful that was. I’m grateful I journaled and wrote things down at the time, so I can look back and reflect on the lessons I learned then…

July 10, 2013

I walk into my parents’ house and see Mom sitting in her rocking chair. “How’s my mama?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” Mom replies. “I haven’t seen her in years.”

“How did you sleep last night?” I ask.
Mom gives me a questioning look and says, “I laid down.”

A little bit later I say, “I love you, Mom.”
She sweetly answers with her most common reply to that these days, “Thank you.”

But later in the afternoon I say it again. “I love you, Mom.”
She answers, “I love you, too…” My heart smiles. And then she adds, with a thoughtful look of concern, “I hope.”

She hopes she loves me. She’s not sure. How could she be, I guess, when at least half the time she doesn’t know my name and never seems to know I’m her daughter?

What is that like to live in a world where you’re not sure who anyone is? Where you’re not sure who loves you or who is a stranger? Where you’re not even sure who you love? What is it like to be in the house you’ve lived in for more than fifty years, but not recognize it and not feel at home there?

What is that like? No wonder Mom hollers and cries sometimes. What courage it must take to live through each day never being sure where you are or who you are with. Does she feel like a stranger in a strange land all day? How does she keep going?

I see her get short flashes of clarity here and there in the day. But they are becoming less frequent. They are melting away, like the last heaps of snow in the spring. And we don’t know when they’ll be gone.

Every time she remembers my name, I wonder if it will be the last time. I want to hold onto her. I wonder what the last conversation was that we had, when she was still fully cognizant she was my mom. I unknowingly let the treasure of that conversation slip away.

And as I think of it, I realize we will seldom know when we are having a last conversation with anyone. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jesus so often repeated the commandment, “Love one another.” Now is the time to love. Now is the time to love my mom and all the people God has blessed me with.

Now is the time to love with purpose and intention and delight. And as we’re loving others, we can rest in the peace that Jesus is preparing a place for us. A place for all who know Him and love Him and believe in Him. A place of healing and restoration. A place where minds and memories are strong again and where there is never a last conversation.

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12 comments

  1. I feel like I’m getting to know you as I read your blog. I’ve followed your blog for over a year, but haven’t read the posts. Because it has been too painful. On June 19, my Mom passed away from end stage Alzheimer’s and now I’m finding your blog a comfort. You put into words so much of what I’ve felt over the last years. So I went back to an early post and I’m reading me way forward. I’m on 2 years ago right now. It is helping me with my grief, and my relief, and my loss. I just wanted to let you know. Thank you for using your gift of writing to pour out your heart in a way that can comfort others.

    Becky Davis Warrenville, I!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    1. Oh Becky, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is! I’m so grateful to hear that what I’ve shared is helping you! That blesses me so much to hear that God is using this blog to bring comfort! Thank you for taking time to tell me this. May God continue to heal and strengthen you and cover you in His grace!
      ~Cheryl

  2. Amazing. Gut wrenching and honest. Deep spiritual insight. You are blessing me and many others. I am a professional caregiver and may soon become one for my wife. I see hope, beauty and love in your messages of encouragement. Keep telling the stories.

    1. Wow, Eddie! Thank you for such powerful encouragement! I’m sorry to hear your wife may soon need your caregiving skills, but what a blessing that you have them! And thank you for blessing me!
      ~Cheryl

  3. This was the first week this happened. 😥 my mom and I were talking about the Amish. I have many Amish friends and we were passing an exit where my mom could have seen a horse and buggy. She said, ‘you should meet my daughter, she loves the Amish too.’ It was sad in one way, but super cool that she knew what I love. This is a very hard disease.

    God bless you…

    Kim

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. I’m sorry, Kim. It’s so hard when you see the connections faltering. But I love that she still remembers what her daughter loves. She still has you in her heart! She still knows you deep down. Hang in there and may God bless and give you grace for the journey.
      ~Cheryl

  4. Thank you for sharing your journey. My Mom has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t speak anymore. Sometimes she knows me, sometimes she doesn’t. I tell her I love her all the time. I usually get a smile. Once in a while “that’s nice” comes out and once in a rare while I get “I love you too”. Amazing how she can’t talk anymore, but those words do get spoken.

    On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 2:00 AM, God’s Grace and Mom’s Alzheimer’s wrote:

    > chermor2 posted: “About a week ago my daughter and I were sitting out on > the deck with my 95 year old mother-in-law, enjoying conversation. Mom got > restless and looked concerned. “Are you ok?” I asked She looked over at the > door to the house and seemed about to get up. “” >

    1. I always loved it when Mom said, “I love you, too.” It always felt like a victory to me, even though she didn’t seem to know me.
      Thank you for sharing, Kathy!

  5. We are entering this stage with my sweet mom. Most days she knows my name, but the times she forgets are a little more frequent. When I say goodnight and turn off her light at night, I always tell her I love her, then she replies with her own “I love you.” I must confess I always wonder whether this “I love you” is her last.

  6. I just found your blog today and already I am encouraged. So many times I look at my mom and wonder,” is this the last time I’ll see her? The last time I’ll hold her hand? The last time I’ll get to say ‘I love you”?” I often wonder, did we realize at the time that her last shopping trip was her last shopping trip? The last meal she cooked the last one? The last time she dressed herself the last time? Those moments pass without us realizing their significance. But those very rare moments when she says “I love you”, totally unprompted, when she’s not even sure who I am, those moments brighten my world for days on end. Thank you for sharing your journey – with Alzheimer’s and with Christ.

    1. I’ve had so many of those exact thoughts, Laura. And I treasured the bright moments, too! Thank you for commenting. I’m so grateful to hear you’re finding encouragement here! That blesses me so much!! Cheryl

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