Alzheimers can be nice. Or maybe I should say it has many gifts, which is nice. My mother is so good at finding these gifts. And, if I work to dialogue with her, I learn her way of overlooking the crap and finding the gift. This is how she finds hope. She looks for the gifts, for the love. Dare I say she that labors to do this?
Below is an excerpt from our journal, one my mother wrote. Learn from her. Learn how she finds hope. If you are younger than my mother, you might want to ask yourself, “What do I need to do right now so that when I am old I can find gifts like this?” If you yourself have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (and some who have are still reading and engaging well), perhaps you will see that you can still teach during this time in your life. You can give gifts to those you love until the day you die. You will see how my mother still teaches me.
Since this is her first entry on this blog, I do need to say the following and I really beg you to read it. Then keep scrolling to read her entry:
When you read entries written by my mother, please keep in mind that they are most likely ones I have transcribed ALMOST word for word from our verbal dialogue. Mom can’t type very well anymore. And, to keep her short term memory on track I do ask her questions so that she will keep moving forward and not loop back too much.
Back when this journal entry was created dialogue was possible, as it still is today. Also, for the record, my mother and I have talked about writing our stories of Alzheimer’s for you to read here on this blog. She said, “Let’s get at it!” And also for the record, on occasion I will have to make editorial decisions on behalf of my mother. For example, I may need to ever so slightly adjust the “word for word” dialogue. If you know the disease of Alzheimer’s, filters sometimes aren’t used like they were used when the brain was more fully functioning. Get my drift? And while I will share a lot, putting ourselves out there, there will be some dialogue between me and my Mom that I just won’t share with you all.
If my mother could not have Alzheimers for an hour and in that hour read what we have written thus far, making the editorial decisions for our posts, she’d probably share more than I would! Hahha. But….well… Let me just say, I am torn by this. Thus, in the end I will err on the side of maintaining dignity and share what I’m quite certain she would. If I at all question it, I won’t share it. That’s a long explanation, but an important one.
February 13, 2013 (A Day Before Valentines Day)
Me: When I say the word love…what do you think?
Mom: Hate. Haha.
Me: Yes, funny! But tell me about love.
Mom: It’s very nice to be in love.
Me: I agree.
Mom: It’s something everybody should be able to go through. Think about all the people who have never been in love. If they have never witnessed it, say a nun for instance (my mother went to Catholic schools). Of course she is suppose to be in love with Jesus. That’s not the same kind of love when your heart goes pitter patter. You know what I mean?
Mom: You know, it makes me think of something when your dad would bring me home (referring to when they were dating) and we (she and her Mom and siblings) were living in that stupid place in Minneapolis and we would pull up in front and smooch and how many times my brother Jim would sneak up to the car and quick open the door and ask, “What are you doing?!!”” Hahhah. Love is a great thing. To me there are different kinds of love, to the same person even, like when you met Dale and now when Dale is your husband. Aren’t those different kinds of love? And the love you have now is different from the one you had when you first met him and were dating.
ME: Which love is harder?
Mom: Probably no question the one you and Dale have now. You are used to his ways and there are things that aggravate that you can’t overlook. When you were in love (she emphasizes the word in), you overlooked his bad habits.
Me: What advice do you have for me in this kind of love?
Mom: To overlook those things. They are not important. I mean unless you are talking about a certain subject that might be important.
Me: Like what?
Mom: Like you are spending too much money and he is calling you on it. But I have a feeling he would be nice about it. I don’t think Dale is a rude man at all. He is just a nice guy.
Me: If I see something rude in him what should I do?
Mom: You should tell him if he is picking his nose or something. That’s gross. But you know, I think a lot of wives probably give their husbands too much advice or are too picky. Leave the poor guy alone unless it is something serious.
Me: Like picking your nose?
Mom: Haha. That was a silly example. Like, if he left his dishes out. Don’t harp on your husband a lot. If I did that your dad would say, “Well, what’s your problem?!” Your dad was a slob. He never hung his clothes up and stuff. I had to pick up after him. But I just did it. I didn’t say anything. If you say something how do you think he would react to that? Probably sarcastically I don’t know. I never thought, “This is my job.” I just picked it up because it bugged me, all of it laying around.
Me: What is it like now to not have anyone to pick up after?
Mom: It’s kind of nice.
“It’s kind of nice.” See my mother finding the gifts? I think this is how I need to nurture hope. Find the gifts. And ask, who is the gift giver? Consider the giver (who in my estimation is Jesus). Hebrews 12:3 says that we should consider him who endured such opposition so that we do not grow weary and lose heart. One of the things I do for my mother is this: when she sees the gift I say, “Wow, that is such a gift. And the giver of that gift is Jesus.” She agrees with that reminder every time. We all need that reminder.