A Personal Letter

Dear Friends, Today I offer a personal letter – and a confession of sorts – to those of you who know me and also to those of you I have never met, but take the time to read my blog. Thank you! I find myself in a somewhat dark season right now, a time when I feel like I am going nowhere and unable to accomplish much. Even writing a blog feels difficult. I find myself posting less and the blogs I do write feel hollow. My mind feels like it’s stuck in neutral and has been for over 8 months. That’s when my life took a “detour” with my 89-year-old mom moving in with us. Immediately the pace of my life slowed down. I no longer had the freedom to come and go as I pleased or to do much outside the home, except for those activities that could be done with a person in late stage Alzheimer’s. My greatest challenged morphed into how to find contentment in these circumstances –  In doing the same things all day long, day after day.  In trying to be interested in the same limited, circular conversations.  In serving my mother even in the most simplest of tasks.  In maintaining the simplest of schedules in order to accommodate her needs.  In continually having to answer the same questions.  In keeping her safe while allowing for her need to be independent. I consider myself pretty tough. Resilient. I am a Finn with SISU. I have learned how to meet major challenges and to rise up when I have fallen, but God is teaching...

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.. Psalm 26:2   “I’ll be right back mom,” I assure her as I step out of the hotel room we share in beautiful Victoria BC. It feels so good to step out of my mom’s world even if it is just for a few minutes to discuss the day’s plans with the rest of my family. But I can’t be gone long. She will quickly forget why she is alone in a strange room and panic will set in. I (and my siblings) define my mom’s security. We are a link to her past, which she longs to restore to her future and define her “now” by.  Visiting Victoria and its Butchart Gardens delights her. This beautiful city holds memories of past vacations we enjoyed as a family. Today, she is intent upon visiting the max museum, which she fondly remembers having toured years ago. We walk downtown and she confidently directs us to a building she believes to be the museum. Surprisingly she is right – we are standing on the exact location of the attraction demolished years ago. She describes replicas of people like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe who she remembers seeing.  But all this is gone, a new fact she can’t retain however. “Let’s go see the wax museum,” she asks again. Her “present” dissipates quickly leaving her to contend with a mirage of confusion.  That is the reality of my mom who suffers with...

When Memory Fades

Today I mourn the loss of my mom.   Yet, she is still here with me.   I watch her smile and nod her head – her contribution to most conversations. I asked her what she likes about the meal she just ate but I already know the answer.  “Everything,” she responds.  It’s an acceptable answer that serves as a front to her lack of recollection. The caring, sweet, vibrant woman who loved me is slipping away.   I don’t understand this new person residing in her body yet. How do you deal with a person who has no short-term memory?  All she wants is to return home where her memories reside- where routines are familiar.  It is what she knows. Alzheimer’s disease has destroyed her ability to retain the present.  No amount of explaining or reasoning can cause her to understand why we had to move her. Or even remember how she got to her new place. I pray that in time she will be able to form new connections and memories. “But how long Lord?” I ask.  “How long do I stay in order for her to adjust?  And will it even happen?” Eleven days ago my brother, sister and I took away her keys and with gentle pressure, explained that she now needed to also move out of her home.  She took the news surprisingly well.  Looking back, I see now that she simply did not comprehend what we were saying and in her trusting way, went along with it.  Now, every day she asks me “how did I get here and why am I even here?”...