The time has come.
In just a few days, I will move my mom to a memory care facility. It’s something I prayed would not have to happen. My emotions are all over the map. One minute I feel relief to be getting some of my life back. The next minute I feel guilty for putting her into the care of strangers. It feels like “I give up – I can’t look after you.” She will be hurt and angry at me. She won’t understand it. She may even give up wanting to live. I feel joy over having cared for her well but also sorrow over those times that I lost my patience with her. In all of it, God has graciously carried me. He has wrapped me in His compassionate arms even when I have fallen short.
This journey is filled with memories.
As I take her through old photo albums, I too remember her before Alzheimer’s began to destroy her brain. I remember her vitality and her charm. I remember her “never give up” mindset and drive. I remember a time when she would have laid down her life for me rather than now expecting all of my life for her. I remember when we were close. Now she needs daily reminders that I am her daughter and not merely a caregiver who prevents her from being independent and doing what she wants.
I know it’s the right decision. I love my mom and I will still spend regular time with her – but as her daughter and not her caregiver. That will be better for both of us.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that doesn’t just destroy memories and cognition.
It also gets in the way of relationships. There are times when I still feel a heart connection with mom but she is struggling more and more to communicate, to understand, to participate, to relate. She is fading away.
Last week, I knew the time had come to move my mom when I watched her fight with Beth, my 2-year-old granddaughter. Over toys! Beth loves to dress and undress dolls. My mom doesn’t approve and scolds her for taking off the doll clothes. Beth loves to put on the $3.00 set of fake pearls she has found in the dress up clothes. My mom grabs the “expensive” pearls from her and puts them out of reach. Beth yells, “stop it Mummu.”(Finnish for grandmother) Mom yells back, “I am not going to play with you when you yell at me.” And so it goes.
For the past year, I have guarded my home and worked to make it a restful sanctuary for my mom.
The time has come when I want to restore my home to a welcome place for my kids and grandkids. It’s really an ordering of my desires. Rather than putting my mom first, I am prioritizing my husband, my kids and grandkids.
Overall I am grateful for this past year.
Mom entered our home in May of 2016. The days since then have often been long but the year has flown by quickly. I have been blessed by this year with her in so many ways.
I thank God not only for giving me this year with my mom but for changing me in the process.
I thank my husband who has been very supportive and patient with me in all of this. We decided last May to take my mom in for a few months. Instead it has stretched to a year. Glen has never complained but instead and been patient and understanding with both my mom and me through it all.
I thank my kids who have watched this consume me, yet have patiently allowed me to conclude, on my own, when enough is enough. They have loved their grandmother well even though she in return has regarded them merely as neighbors, not recognizing them as her family too.
I thank my grandkids who have been kind and thoughtful of their great-grandmother and given her sweet attention each time they walk in the door.
I thank my siblings who have faithfully responded to calls for help each time I have needed them. This journey has united our hearts and paved the way for spending sweet time together.
I thank my school community- my Veritas family – for giving me space to love my mom well this past year.
It’s not goodbye mom.
I will visit you regularly. So will your grandkids and great grandkids and the rest of your family. You will not be forgotten. We will always be your family. And I will always be your daughter – whether you remember it or not.