I am aware that October seems to be a key month for various groups to target us for “awareness.”
And I am aware that all of this push to make us aware can wear us out.
As humans, we have enough struggle in our day to day just to keep one foot moving in front of the other.
If we have one ounce of empathy in us, we can get overwhelmed trying to take in the excess of information available covering health issues, the shenanigans of politicians and the personal plights of such a diverse population.
Not to mention entire islands being engulfed in water and rubble.
Yet here I am, faced with the knowledge that I made a promise to someone I respect and admire who leads a support group for families and spouses affected by Alzheimer and knowing I need to address the topic as promised <3
So I am dedicating the rest of this week to addressing four topics caregivers might experience on this journey with a loved one.
My father died of the disease in 2010 after what we surmise was a long battle.
Being highly intelligent and disciplined all of his life, and having a wife who filled in until she broke, it went on for far longer than we like to think before we brought him to our hometown in 2003 and began a seven year season that shaped our family differently than we would have planned.
In the summer of that year, I loaded our John in the car fresh off the back nine of a city golf tournament.
He was thirteen years old and got exposed to a side of his grandpa I wish I could erase from his story, but I thank God for that young life in the back of my van for the long road trip home with my mom, dad and aunt.
It was a rescue mission that launched us into the world of medicare, hospitals, nursing homes and all manner of a life caring for elderly family; even as we finished raising up three Reimers and navigating them through Junior and Senior high, college and marriage.
How we made it was by doing it together…with generous doses of grace and mercy and the love of God poured into our days.
We drew strength from Him and from each other. We had friends who prayed us through and we are forever grateful for what God gave us in this time.
So I want to share some from my experiences this week to encourage those who are in the trenches right now or for who are still healing from the battle.
I am choosing four key words to use this week’s posts and today’s is Fear.
Because we walked through this and our children saw the devastation of this disease…because they held their wife and mom tight and came alongside me on those days when all I had were tears…because we know Alzheimer seems to run in families…sometimes I fight fear.
From the frantic search for my phone or the forgotten errand I headed out to do only to come home and discover…still no milk in the fridge…normal every day forgetful things can strike fear in the heart of the child of one who has suffered hard from this disease that wreaks havoc on the mind.
However…the worst part is the things I simply have no recollection about.
It’s when I am told I agreed to something and I cannot even dredge up one memory of it.
Or I have a conversation that is brand new fresh in my own mind and the hearer nods with familiarity and says I told them that already…and I don’t remember any of the experience.
This too is normal for a busy person who talks too much and overcommits.
But for a child of a parent who had Alzheimer, the fear creeps in and the hand goes to the head.
And we commence to pray deep prayers.
Prayers for God to make all the nerve endings work the way they were meant to…prayers that we never have to cause our spouse or children the pain we have endured.
Prayers that if the Lord chooses to let my mind go, will He please take with it my ability to speak so I never use words that harm them?
Prayers that if I do go this route, oh Lord, will You give my dear family Your Presence in powerful ways?
Will you flood them with Your grace and wisdom so they know Your strength is carrying them?
Will You please draw them so close they can smell You and feel You?
And Lord, would You cause them to lean hard into You and into the love they have for each other?
I know this is hard to read and it sounds like I speak without hope, but I am just sharing the honest prayers of a child’s heart to her God when she is afraid.
So today I offer a prayer for me…for you…for anyone who has been touched by a loved one having this disease and sometimes fights fear.
Heavenly Father, I do not doubt that You made me and You know the number of my days. You know my future and it is held in Your hands and in this I take great comfort. Lord, You know the fear that grips me when I forget things.
You know how I can worry that one day my sweet husband or precious children or grandchildren will walk through the heartache of losing someone they love while continuing to care for someone who doesn’t know them. It is frightening to think of Lord, yet I know that fear is not of You. You are Perfect Love and Perfect Love casts out all fear.
I do lay my hand on my head and I do ask You Lord to spare me and our family of the ravages this disease can bring. I speak life and I speak healing over my mind and I thank You that my mental, physical and spiritual health are all under Your authority.
I do pray, Lord, in whatever ways that aging brings changes to me…to my mind and to my body, that I would remain faithfully in You no matter what the outer shell may look like.
I pray for the renewing of my mind and my spirit and Lord, even as our children and grandchildren will be saddened by the process of Russ and me growing older no matter what this looks like.
Thank You that You will use this to soften their hearts and mould and shape them even more into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the love and support of family and friends in every season.
Thank You that our future is not prescribed by our past, by our genetics, by our fears…thank You that our future is held tight and safe and lovingly in Your hands <3
In Jesus’ precious Name, amen <3