So I have been accumulating thoughts about our years with “the Triplets”…my mom, dad and aunt; whose care and well-being were abruptly inserted into our family dynamics 12 years ago this July 23rd.
John and I made a rescue mission to their home in Kentucky to nab up the three of them…my dad in full blown Alzheimer mode…my aunt in the la la land of dementia … and my mom in complete physical, mental and emotional collapse.
I am putting together thoughts and writings from our journey of the next 7 years as we provided care for them and still maneuvered our three little birds through Junior High, High School and College.
I have laughed and I have cried and I have relived so much of it…and I know a lot of you have or currently are walking through this with grandparents, parents, spouses or siblings.
It’s raw…it’s hard…and there is no guide book for it short of the good Book itself to get you through.
It occurs to me that someone out there might need to hear some words from someone who made it and lived to tell about it …maybe you can set down some of your guilt, admit your weariness and know you are not alone.
Indulge me, please…I wrote this about my dad when we were four years into the process…
“He used to tower over me, physically and emotionally. Now his bowed legs and spine have reduced him to eye-level. His tirades can be turned around by a clever change in conversation, but sometimes I am too tired and unenthused to come up with a diversion.
Our visits are limited to about 15 minutes – it is enough for both of us. My patience wears thin and he loses interest after several rounds of repetitive arguments.
I bring him no comfort and I do believe this is a pain that far exceeds the time that will come when he will not know me at all.
To tell him to change his clothes, and have him obey me is beyond humbling.
This man used to command whatever body of people was assembled around him at any given moment – his family, a committee, an office staff, even an entire department. He was a colonel in the Air Force and as a child; I believed he ran that whole branch of the military and perhaps even the country.
Now he holds my hand to walk down the hall so we can find his room. He obediently goes in and changes into the clothes I lay out on his bed and then asks me to help him with his buttons and his belt, because as he puts it: his fingers just don’t work right.
This man used to buy the most expensive suits and shoes he could reasonably afford.
Now he wears the same shirt and pants, and probably more – I really don’t want to think about it – for weeks at a time.
He can’t remember why he is in the nursing home, which he calls, depending on the hour of the day – church, a hotel, the office, or “this place”.
He knows it isn’t home, but when you ask him where home is he doesn’t really know that either.
There are funny things and I give myself permission to laugh.
He will tell you he grew up with just about all the residents of the nursing home. They are, for the most part life-time residents of Decatur and he grew up in Louisville, KY; but he delivered newspapers to a lot of their houses as a boy. And they nod their heads enthusiastically when he tells me. They are all happy with this story; so I just say “What a small world!” and go on.
I see God’s mercy in the midst of this very ugly and evil disease. I believe that this forgetting has a grace to it.
The pain does not accumulate for him over time; the frustration does not build for more than a few minutes and then it is forgotten.
God comforts my mom and me and our family in the pain when he lashes out. He may forget, but we don’t.
God gives us grace each time to go back again for another round.
If this sounds familiar…I pray for you today. It is hard, dear one, but there is a sweet refining as you serve the Lord in the care of your loved one.
He knows. He sees. He does not forget you even if your loved one does.
May you be strengthened today to press on.
May you extend yourself grace when you grow weary.
May you know that He knows what you are made of and He will carry you through as you……
journey onward <3