During the month of November, I want to focus on special gratitudes. Makes sense, right? During Thanksgiving month we should be grateful.
But this year, I want to dig a bit deeper than the usual, “Thank you for health, for food, for the roof over my head.”
This year, the focus is a series of gratitudes on my current life or the people in my life.
Post One underscores gratitude for the beautiful life my mother lives.
Mom is currently in Stage Six of the Alzheimer’s journey. She can still dress herself, although I’ve noticed her hairdo needs a bit of tweaking. She can still feed herself and she eats well — gaining weight this year.
But confusion still reigns, and we never know which day may be more lucid than the other. She no longer knows her family members as the connections of relationships remain a puzzle. She often exists in the past, waiting for her parents or her husband to come pick her up and take her to town.
Last year, Mom recognized me by the connection with my son. If I said, “Caleb is working at Amazon,” she would nod and call me by name.
But that has changed. She remembers she has a grandson named Caleb, and she has a daughter who lives in the Kansas City area. But connecting us together and recognizing either of us is now gone.
We are in the stage of Alzheimers where it is comfortable and easy for the patient yet harder for the family and caregivers.
Mom is basically happier now that ever before. The Type A personality, busy all the time, is gone. She sits contentedly in her chair and reads her Bible or the same mystery novel over and over.
She sleeps, then rises for breakfast. She eats all her meals when they call her to the dining room. She attends activities, rides the shuttle to see the Christmas lights and plays Bingo several times / week.
No bills to pay. All that was settled long ago when papers were signed with the facility.
No chores to do. Even her laundry is washed, dried and sorted by others.
No stresses from life or job. She has no idea of current events. Rarely watches the news. Reads the paper but who cares about what’s happening when you have no desire to do anything about it?
Her life is filled with adjectives such as peaceful, safe, content.
Sometimes I envy her.
But mostly, I am grateful Mom has these days of quiet rest with nothing to look forward to but the next meal, the Bingo gathering or lights out.
And the only thing that’s better will be her next move – to heaven.
©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For more essays about the Alzheimers journey, check out Sometimes They Forget.
Yes, I remember Stage 6. The only way I got through it was reminding myself of how peaceful my mom was. I was glad for her and that made me happy and thankful. Praying for your family.
Thanks for your prayers, Sally, and for the comment. Yes, that peaceful place is indeed wonderful!
Dear RJ, Your post about your mom’s Alzheimer and your gratitude for where she is now in her journey, has touched my heart deeply. Early in my forties I saw the carnage of this terrible disease while ministering in nursing homes. It wasn’t long before a friend in my Bible study group began her A journey. Her terror was tangible and heart-rending as she gradually slid into a world of her own. My stepdad’s memory has declined over the past 20 years. Like your mom, he is happy, content, and at rest watching cowboy shows, many of which he, amazingly, has memorized the script. He no longer remembers my mother, nor does he know who I am. The blessing is in the moments of shared conversation, hugs, laughter, and in knowing I am bringing a bit of warmth, companionship, and love into his limited sphere of human connection. I love him for how he loved my mom, and how good he was to me, her adult child. It is now my joy to take care of his affairs for him, and I am grateful for the great health he still enjoys at age 92. I appreciate so much you sharing from such a place of personal experience. We met a couple of years ago at the HACWN in KC, (I believe). I enjoyed your class. Thank you for sharing your gift with the rest of us who long to give effective voice to our thoughts and feelings. God bless you, Terry Magness
Thank you, Terry, for your beautiful comment and encouraging words. I’m so glad you are able to help your step-dad during this difficult journey, and I hope your Thanksgiving will be sprinkled with happy memories.