Being slapped in the face by the reality of Alzheimer’s is NOT fun. It happens to me and it happens to my mother. On such a day I let myself cry and then I dig in my heels. Here is one such day I’d like to share. An excerpt from my journal:
Mother’s Day 2012
I walk through her apartment door with a bright bouquet of flowers and a big stuffed smiley face twice the size of a basketball. The Hallmark store does have its advantages. It is twelve o’clock noon on Mother’s day. I find her on the lanai, still in her robe. This is not unusual. I kiss her forehead, cheerfully greeting her with a smile.
She comes into the living room with me and we play “kickball” with the stuffed smiley face. We giggle like schoolgirls. Nearby my husband takes care of a household task. Mom settles herself back into the lounge chair on the lanai and I sit down at the computer to check its settings (volume up, skype still on, calendar with reminders open: check, check, check).
It feels like its going to be a good day.
But then I look down. On the surface of Mom’s computer desk I find a sticky note. What is scrawled on it causes my heart to sink. It is a simple mathematical equation: one number subtracted from another to find an answer she needed to know. She can’t remember her age. Laura, this is not unusual. In dialogue with her this has happened many times! Why do you sit here now in such disbelief?
I hold the sticky note in my shaking hand and move towards my husband so he can see what is causing me to scream inside. We exchange a knowing glance that only two people married 29 years can do. I return to the desk and set it back where I found it.
Now, three hours later, I sit on the couch in my own living room, going through a box of Kleenex. It’s just one of those moments, one of those hours, one of those days when I am slapped in the face by the reality of Alzheimer’s.
Mom you wrote down 2010?! It’s 2012. Up until now you have done fairly well using your resources. Usually you check the newspaper for the date or for the year. Why didn’t you today? Are you losing your ability to use your resources? If you are, this is really a game changer for you and for me.
Mom, how much longer will you remember your birth year?
And when you can’t remember that, will you still remember me?
I’m slapped in the face today and I’m allowing myself to lament. And I cling to the FACT that after an evening of lament the Lord’s mercies will be new to me every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-33) Each and every morning there will be at least one tiny mercy from my Father. I dig my heels into this truth and I will work hard to consider the gifts each new day brings. Gosh darn it I will obey Hebrews 12:1-3 and NOT grow weary and lose heart.
Yes, I will. Or won’t I?