Hope Finds Its Space

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.

Where Is It?

For three days, I lived on the edge of fear, hoping and praying that what I suspected was not true. I had searched through all my cabinets, even in the pantry and could not find my favorite glass measuring cup.measuring cup

Each morning, I checked through all the cabinets again. Maybe I had missed it the day before. Maybe it somehow reappeared during the night in that clandestine hide-and-seek that dishes and socks and silverware play.

No. I looked in the dishwasher. Maybe it was dirty and waiting to be washed. No. Maybe it somehow found its way to the cabinet with the smaller appliances. Was it stuck inside the blender? No. Hiding behind my son’s George Foreman grill? No.

The reason this search for the missing glass measuring cup was so important had nothing to do with the fact that this is my favorite measuring cup. I could probably replace it at Target for less than five dollars.

But this is the exact behavior that my mother exhibited when she began to struggle with symptoms of Alzheimer’s. She “lost” items around the house. She forgot which cabinets held her pots and pans. She safety-pinned her house key inside her pants whenever she left the house so that she could get in again, because her keys were easy to “lose.”

Was I beginning to see the same pattern and this time…in myself?

Please, God. Oh no, please, please.

After the third day of searching for the measuring cup and not finding it, I mentioned it to my son. “Have you seen it? Do you remember taking it out of the dishwasher and putting it somewhere?”

He helped me look through the cabinets one more time and sure enough – there it was. Hiding behind the divider on the top shelf, within the shadows where I had easily missed seeing it before.

But how did it get there? I have a particular place where I keep my measuring cups. Why was this cup in the wrong place?

I thought about Reverend G and how she misplaced a half gallon of Chunky Monkey ice cream. Instead of placing it in the freezer where it belonged, she hid it in the pantry where the “brown and white droplets of melted ice cream puddled on the floor.” http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Was I joining my own main character in the world of Alzheimer’s, putting things where they didn’t belong?

Please, God. Oh no, please, please.

Then my son fessed up. “I may have put the measuring cup in the wrong place, Mom.”

Whew! “Okay. It goes here, in this other cabinet. Next time, we’ll both know where to look for it.”

Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you.

©2014 RJ Thesman – Intermission for Reverend G – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo