Finding the Touches of God’s Grace in the Tough Days

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Our caregiver, Julie, came yesterday morning with plans to get my 96 year old mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s, up and showered and fed, etc. But Mom wasn’t going for it. I heard Mom scream, “Get out of here! Get out of here!”

Julie, who truly is an incredible caregiver, left her alone for 15 minutes and tried again. Again I heard screaming. Julie kept trying different approaches. Mom kept refusing to get up.

When my husband got home from a meeting, he went in to Mom’s room and tried his usual approach that tends to calm her down. He said, “Hi Mom. You are Eunice and I am your son, Jeff.”

Mom looked at him and said, “So what?”

To make a long story short, Mom didn’t get out of bed until after two in the afternoon. And the shower was postponed until today. Thankfully today was a much better day.

But the challenges of yesterday remind me of days I had with my own mama. And the little gifts of grace God would send to help me through them…

August 2, 2015

Some days there just seems to be so little I can do. And I wonder if I’m helping at all. And then somehow Mama, in the middle of dementia, says just the right thing to bless me…

I lean close to Mama as she sits in her rocking chair and say, “Hi, Mama.”

She looks right at me and says, “I don’t know who you are.”

“I’m Cheryl.”

Dad looks likes he’s dozing and I know if I talk with Mom I may disrupt him, so I go and sit across the room. Mom doesn’t turn to face me. She keeps looking at the door and the picture on the wall. She occasionally says random things.

Dad wakes up after a few minutes and I give him the prescription I’ve picked up for him. He seems anxious to catch the news on television, so I sit by Mom a few minutes and help her eat one of the homemade cookies I’ve brought over.

Dad has the volume so loud I can’t really talk. And often these days when I do talk with Mom it seems to agitate her. I decide to leave so Dad can watch his program in peace. I say, “Good-bye Mama. I love you.”

And she answers, “I know you do.”

And I cling to that.

Because lately it feels like there is so little I can do to connect with Mom. And it grieves me to think that my visiting with her often riles her, when all I want to do is surround her with peace and joy.

Alzheimer’s is a continuing journey of learning and challenges and tears. It draws me into a deeper reliance on God and His grace. What a comfort to know, that even when Mama doesn’t know my name, God always will.

And even though I can’t always comfort Mama or be with her, God is always, constantly watching over her.

And God is with me, too. And He knows my heart. And He collects my tears and records them in His book. (Psalm 56:8)

And I call out in prayer and say, “I don’t know what to do, Lord. I’m not sure how to help. But I love You and I love Mama and Dad.”

And I picture Him smiling and gently saying, “I know you do.”

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5 comments

  1. I truly believe when you were going through this with your dear mom that God knew how badly I would need to connect to another sister in Christ 4 years into your future. Therefore, He had you write down then what you were experiencing and reshare it so that I could read it NOW and know that I was not the only one that had gone through this. I read that He was there for you and that encourages me that He will be there for me on his dark, lonely journey that I walk with my dear mom. It amazes me that I lay my head on my pillow at night and whisper the same prayers that you did four years ago: “I don’t know how to help them, Lord. Please be with them as I cannot always be there. I love them so much, Lord.” And He reassures me, just as He did you, that he loves my parents even more than I do and that He is taking care of them. “Thank you” seems like such a small thing for the blessing and comfort you provide for me in your writing. I thank God for you and ask Him to give you strength spiritually and physically do this again with your mother-in-law. You amaze me. May God bless you with His unending grace.

    1. Ivy, I’m so grateful to hear that what I share blesses and encourages you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts so beautifully! May God bless you with His abundant grace as well!
      ~Cheryl

  2. Cheryl, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and prayers in the time you cared for both your parents and now your mother-in-law. My mom suffered with alzheimers for at least 14 years and just passed away May 20, 2019. We didn’t have her memorial service until July 20th. You expressed so many of the thoughts and feelings that I have felt over these years. Last Christmas, my sister and I got her a baby doll after hearing how some alzheimer’s patients really respond to them. At first she wouldn’t look at the doll, but then she started looking at it and smiling at it or talk to her ‘baby’. She even cuddled with the doll. In the last couple of weeks of her life, my sister and I were driving daily the 50 miles to the home where she was. We would pray over her, read Scripture and sing her favorite hymns even though she hadn’t been able to hear for years. BUT, on a couple of her favorite songs, we’d see her lips move or she tried to sing along! I can only think, spirit to spirit. What a blessing to ‘find the touches of God’s grace’ in it all!

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Lynette. It sounds like you made some precious memories with your mom! I got a baby doll for my mom too, and it was a comfort to her for a season of her journey. I love that your mom was able to connect with music even though she couldn’t hear! Amazing what the spirit knows and what God does. And yes, what a blessing His touches of grace are through it all. May you continue to see them in your time of mourning, too. He is with us always. God bless you and comfort you! And thank you for sharing with me!
      ~Cheryl

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