Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in my mom’s life. Not sure if I am ready to accept it. Mom has dementia and today she will be going into a villa near her home, leaving a known life and her husband of 63+ years behind. I am not sure how I feel and I cannot begin to imagine how my dad feels or sister/husband who have been with them for the last year. Does mom even know the decision made on her behalf? Is she fully cognizant? I have a deep lump in my throat right now. And I am 1900 km or so away, not even in the field of touching her, hugging her, seeing her up close and personal.
This whole process has been a rollercoaster with the COVID-19 permeating everything you do. Not an easy journey of ups and downs of “can she go? should she go? when can she?”. One day she is going, the next a new policy in place by government agencies…I get it. No go. Wait. The risks to the fragile are real. In the end so is mom’s safety. The disease is taking its toll on her and on my dad and sister caring for her. Guilt. Hurts. Decisions. Hurt. Letting go. Hurts.
For the best. Yes. Unfortunately this pandemic that puts a haze of chaos within your heart and mind at the same time, hoping it is a decision made with best intentions. Of course mom is front and centre. But the journey of this disease continues to create a sense of havoc…what to do for her. What is best for her? My sister has been so good at describing what has been going on, and in the end of the beginning, watching my mom become more childlike in her actions, neglecting herself, and being so so stubborn… that is the best way she can describe her to me. THAT IS NOT MOM.
Oh mom, I love you. It brings me once again to the preciousness of life. And to a mom, who has been my mom forever and ever Amen. You are not prepared for this. Speaking with my dad a few weeks ago, one of the things he kept saying to me, this is not her. You could tell dad struggled with emotion. Not one to show that, always stalwart and strong; he watches while his wife of forever becomes someone whom he does not know. I recall the beautiful movie The Notebook from Richard Sparks book….never thinking that one day I, or we, would be facing a similar journey. Right now my mom still recognizes my voice and face across the screen as we Facetime. She waves at me, listening to me while my sister and dad talk away.
Why oh why? I was looking up songs about Alzheimers and Dementia. There are quite a few of them actually and each poignant in their own right. Our body is such a blessed vessel that you hope you take care of in the best way you can. But there are outside things that come in, things you have no control over, that change life as you know it in a blink of an eye. The body is a miracle in it of itself. I mean when I experience birth and then my own daughters giving birth, the miracle of how a body is put together and functions without breaking down….how is it possible? Yet it does. And so to does it fail you at times.
Did I think this day would ever come? Not on my watch. Not in a million years. But today at 11:00 am, mom is going to have a new chapter of her life, one that is not directly with those she loves. That hurts. Tears are in my eyes as I say that. Will she be loved? Taken care of? Giving her the intensive care she needs? Trusting that goodness will come out of a decision that is fraught with pain and fear, hope and relief? For mom, all for you mom. Please take care of her, she is precious cargo.
Of course I just get off the phone with my mom, sister and dad right now. Wanted to say a so long, not goodbye. My sister is getting things ready for mom’s departure, the technical part of leaving. Sometimes it is that part which you can hold on to without breaking down. Taking her in, mom will be on 14 day isolation and then only a drive by where they bring her out to picnic table and visitors can talk to mom from car window. No words here. No words, just a bit of choked up feeling in my throat. And my sister, will leave mom there to go to her room (one not to be visited until who knows when), will go to an office and do the paper work. Sum up a life to be cared for…on paper. Catch-22 feeling inside… best for her, not best time to go, having to make decision, best for who. Life as we know it.
Tears fall down my face as my sister lets me know I need to get off FaceTime. Best for all. I am never good in these moments. I remember when my youngest had to get surgery on her teeth because of too many cavities. I cried, could not go. Could not watch. I remember when my middle daughter had her tonsils out at 4 years old. She was such a little mite. They brought her out in this tall wheeled crib, looked like a little cell (just my memory) and rolling her towards me. I saw her and broke down. The nurse told me to get it together (stop crying) as I see my daughter from her surgery, tiny body laying there with tears in her eyes. I remember when my oldest had her baby, could not be there because of restrictions from virus. Tears fall freely. So when can I be emotional?! Not then not now. Stiff upper lip. Not me but one has to be. When sadness comes, in whatever way, it comes.
Oh mom, my heart is sad today and I am going to allow it to be. My youngest heard me talk to you (thanks for the hug daughter) but no response from you. That’s okay mom, I think you heard me. So I sign off in tears. Later on, the reality hit between the eyes as dad and my sister FaceTime me. She’s in. Not kicking my heels today. And……Dad could not even go in, standing outside of building holding mom’s items for the attendants to take. Someone put mom in wheelchair, took her temperature, put mask on her while my sister had to go and do paperwork. Yep…dot the i’s and cross the t’s. But before they could blink, my sister and dad stood looking at mom, tears running down her face, and they break too. Reality. Oh my. Not what it should have looked like. So allow me to mourn a bit today and maybe for a bit longer. Love you, mom.
Blessings to memories, gifts of grace.
Let us pray for all those in need and today most ardently to my mom and all those who journey with alzheimer or dementia.