What Alzheimer’s Teaches – Part 1

oneAs a Christian, I try to focus on the positives in life – those creative surprises that God brings out of any situation.

He promises that he can bring something good out of our struggles. We look for the good. We trust that He knows a better way.

Truthfully, a belief in the positives has not been easy as I’ve watched my mother disappear into the shadows of Alzheimer’s Disease. This trial seems to bear with it only the negatives, the sorrow and the unending disappearance of memory and identity.

But on days when I feel stronger, I consider what Alzheimer’s has taught me. What has been one of the emotional or spiritual benefits? What have I learned by observing this disease that gradually takes my mother away?

Patience.

Answering the same questions over and over taxes my patience, but then I think about the question from my mother’s point of view. For her, it isn’t the same question. It’s a new question every few minutes.

If I stop, breathe and wait for some inspiration from God, I sometimes create a new way to answer Mom’s questions. Or I change the subject and lead her into a different conversation where we start all over.

It helps me to search for patience when I realize there will come a day when Mom’s questioning will stop. She will no longer be able to formulate sentences. She will stop speaking entirely, and I will miss the sound of her voice.

That helps me find motivation for patience while we’re both still existing in the present tense.

When she forgets how to put in her hearing aid, I observe the patience of my sister instructing Mom once again.

When she can’t find the slippers we just bought her, patience helps us look for them.

When she no longer knows what day it is, even though we’ve circled it on the calendar – patience whispers, “Tuesday, Mom. It’s still Tuesday.”

Reverend G might counsel us from her own viewpoint, “Please be patient with me. I don’t mean to be forgetful. 3D Rev G coverIn fact, I once knew everything about each of you. But this disease has changed me, so please wait patiently with me while I go through another stage.

“Honor me for the mother I once was, for the many ways that I helped you remember to do your homework and take out the trash – for the many times I reminded you of meetings and how I made sure you made it to church on time.

“Be patient with me as I wait for the sunset of another day and hope this will be that special date on the heavenly calendar when I join my Jesus in heaven.

“Hold me close and answer my questions, because then I’ll know you’re trying to communicate with me.

“Remember how patient I was with you as you learned to tie your shoes, brushed your teeth and practiced on that squeaky violin. My heart needs you to be patient now in return.

“Strive for patience because that is what Jesus asks you to do, and when I hear the frustration in your voice – it hurts my feelings and it hurts him, too.

“Have faith that someday the need for patience will end. I will no longer respond at all, but somewhere in the pockets of my soul – I will remember you and smile.”

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