When the transitions of life change our circumstances, it may become more difficult to discover hope.
Recently, Mom transferred from assisted living to the Alzheimer’s unit. A necessary change, given her cognitive impairment. Still, for the family she no longer recognizes, it was a clear reminder of the devastation of this disease.
Grateful for the beautiful and efficient multi-level facility where Mom lives, I still wanted to save her — to save all of us — from this fate.
Once again, Mom’s space has disappeared.
A much smaller room, although she still has her familiar furniture: the dark mahogany dresser, the comfy glider/rocker, the end table my sister embellished with decorative tacks, the corner etagere that displays family pictures.
A decreased closet size. No more walk-in with plenty of room for various wardrobes. Mom makes simpler choices these days: easy-to-pull on slacks, polyester tops, socks and shoes. Most of them in her favorite pastel colors. No jewelry. No accessories.
My own wardrobe contrasts with multiple colors and textures, plenty of bling, a few funky hats. Plenty of choices.
But grief threatens for the future. What if my space disappears? What if I can no longer enjoy putting outfits together, find the best bargains, check my reflection in the mirror?
That loss would affect my enjoyment of life.
Mom’s brain no longer calculates the spatial changes. She sleeps, eats and does the activities they tell her to do. Totally compliant, this once fiercely independent woman.
I want to scream at the injustice of life.
One big change in Mom’s new “home” is the bed. No longer able to relax in the daybed my siblings moved from her house, she will now sleep in a hospital bed.
If her nursing mind was capable, she would recognize this change as decline. More dependent on others to make sure she doesn’t roll out of bed, doesn’t wander during the night.
The change of beds signals the regression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The next bed will be a confinement unto death. The beds in the nursing home wing are for patients who can no longer walk. They lie supine, hoping to be spared bed sores as each sunset leads them toward a final resting place — the silk-lined coffin.
Mom used to love the wide spaces of the farm. She hung sheets to flap on the clothesline, held the pins in her mouth and gloried in the cerulean skies of Oklahoma. Her hubby tilled another rotation in the field as she watched. Her children either finished chores or prepped homework for another school day.
It was a good life — spacious in its beauty.
But now, the transition has stolen more freedom and set in motion another arrow toward the final target.
So how do we find hope in such a sad prognosis? By looking at the space to come.
When Mom is finished with her final transition on earth, she will fly to a timeless world with no margins or imitations.
She’ll be free to visit with Dad and her parents or chat with a biblical character she once read about. Maybe she’ll meet one of the authors whose books she read.
Perhaps she’ll step into another dimension, travel to Mars or float above her children and silently cheer us toward the same goal.
Space and time will do its disappearing act rather than the facility where Mom currently lives.
And in the end, hope will take its space in all our hearts when this disease says its final good-bye.
©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For more essays about the Alzheimers journey, check out Sometimes They Forget.
Becky, this is absolutely one of my favorites! So raw, so transparent. Maybe it unfolded my own memories of playing on your farm, knowing exactly where your mom was hanging laundry and watching Uncle Hank on the tractor. A friend of ours was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and asked for prayers from our Sunday morning group. The peace on her face, her knowing that God had her in His hands, her joy having her daughter live with her to take care of her in her final days, it was a very touching moment. May you always be held in His hands and continue your good work of sharing hope for the future!
Thanks so much, Kathryn. Mom doesn’t know any of us anymore, so it is sad. But we all treasure the memories on the farm – and those holidays with all the cousins ! Great to hear from you!