Jun
08

Holding Mom’s Hand

By

mom holding little girl's hand 

 

We hold hands a lot now, my mother and I.  Much as a mother would hold the hand of her little girl as they cross a parking lot or walk the hallways on the way to a class, I hold my 86 year old mother’s hand, both to guide her along the hallways of her assisted living facility and to give her the safety of my touch.

The sadness of these moments is intermingled with feelings of tenderness as Mom and I have completely switched roles. Some 53 years ago, she and my dad adopted my twin brother and me and brought us home from the hospital at 3 days of age.

Throughout the years, Mom told of the days when she sterilized 16 bottles at a time, bought multiple pairs of white shoestrings, washed cloth diapers by the dozens, and a multitude of other details on caring for two babies. Now I care for my mom.

It was a year ago that she came to live with me when it became undeniable that she was not okay living alone.  She was, in fact, much worse than I knew. I now know that individuals with Alzheimer’s learn to cover and compensate but as Mom lived with me 24/7, the reality was difficult for me to accept. As Mom eventually suffered two falls and a hospitalization and a process of rehabilitation, I knew Mom needed more than I could give her.

Now at this point of our journey, I can see more clearly but it’s been a process. How difficult it is to accept a parent’s failing health! How tough it is to switch roles! I second guessed myself so many times. How bad was her memory? How impaired was her understanding?

Fear often whispered in my ear as I increasingly became responsible for Mom’s affairs as I watched her change from a fiercely independent woman to one who no longer understood the significance of pennies versus dollars.

The increasing effects of Alzheimer’s’ disease eventually led us to an assisted living facility nearby my home. I was probably more afraid than Mom was at first. What was she thinking? Was she scared when I wasn’t there?

An incredible sadness covered me when after repeated conversations I came to accept that Mom didn’t remember living with me and didn’t even question where she was.

Now I pay Mom’s bills, buy her clothes, schedule her doctor’s visits, drive her wherever she goes, make decisions for her.

And I’m her primary source of comfort. I sit with her during meals, wrap my arm around her as she wraps her arm around me, hold her hand, talk about the same things over and over, provide words for her as she struggles to communicate.

I’m learning to accept being in the moment with Mom. I’m learning to accept that for Mom, the present moment, is the most important moment. I’m growing to appreciate the moments of now, whether or not Mom remembers them in five minutes or whether or not she remembers five minutes ago or last year.

In my acceptance, I feel the pain. The sadness. The loss.

Sometimes I feel the impulse to call Mom as I did most every day for many years, and then I realize she’s not at her home any more. A strange emptiness fills my heart.

I find myself needing to do things to hold onto Mom. On a recent trip to her home, I found her ‘snowball’ rose bush blooming. It was always Mom’s favorite. I cut the flowers, put them in a vase, and carried them to her, hoping she would recognize them and enjoy them once again. Grief washed over me as I saw those flowers didn’t bring up any memory for Mom. I now have a snowball rose bush in my yard as I hold onto Mom and the things that were once important to her.

I pray for Mom’s healing and her peace. And at the same time, I face the truth that this is something I can’t fix but as in most things in our lives, in the middle of this, God is fixing more things inside me.

And for today, holding Mom’s hand is enough. 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Me'ira says:

    Hi,
    Just read your post-So good. I just recently moved into my mom’s house to be her caregiver. Her body is sick with Emphysema and Pancreatic cancer. She is now on hospice care. It is sad experiencing mom this way. We both are believers in Jesus and healing for today. It appears that my soul is what God is healing. Such a precious time.

  2. Pam says:

    You have conveyed the tremendous emotions you go through when a parent has Alzheimer’s disease very well. I didnt blog, but I did journal a and sometimes shared with family members on Facebook page we had for my dad. It helped me a lot. to be able to communicate my feelings ~~ and so many thanked me for sharing these deepest thoughts and feelings.

    All those times with my dad that last year are Almost my favorite, treasured moments with him. Like you I learned to live in the moment. And enjoy being with him wherever he was at :-). It brought him great comfort. It exhausted me mentally ~ but it was worth it! U would never trade those days for anything.

    He passed in November- I’ve seen the end. It was agonizing and I prayed he would go quickly. He finally let go I think when he finally trusted me that heaven defintely would be better than here. I read a lot of sceipture about heaven to him.

    You are doing abqonderful thing sharing in your blog. I hope many people will read it who are going through a similar time.

  3. Mikki says:

    Hi Me’ira,

    I was looking back through my blog comments and found yours. I have stopped to pray for God’s grace for you today.

    Mikki

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