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Debbie's Digest: Remember the mom God gave you with love

Mom is 73. She doesn't remember the full name she gave me at birth and sometimes gives me a look that says she doesn't know who I am, or what right I have to kiss her forehead.

Mom is 73. She doesn’t remember the full name she gave me at birth and sometimes gives me a look that says she doesn’t know who I am, or what right I have to kiss her forehead.

Three years ago, she knew my full name, knew she had a house and that she didn’t want to leave it. It took an hour to convince her that she had to move to another home where she would be safe and cared for by others.

I lied to her; I told her when the plumbing was fixed, which would be a few months later, she could return to her home, knowing full well that when she left, she’d never return to the little house she was so proud of owning.

My mom had clearly come to the time when she could not live on her own. Thankfully, though the deciding action could have been deadly, she was spared. I still thank God for that; I don’t know that I could have forgiven my ignorance had she been hurt.

To my great relief, she agreed to the move. It took an hour to talk her into it and I think the reason she finally did was because somewhere in her mind, she knew, too, that she couldn’t live safely on her own anymore. Maybe she was tired of trying to hold it all together when she knew she couldn’t anymore. Maybe she was exhausted trying to remember everything she had to remember in a day just to survive.  A friend enlisted to help convince her to move to a new home, walked around her house with her, reminiscing with her over each precious possession – allowing her to say an unwitting good-by -- while I hurriedly packed up her clothes and other essentials to move into her new space.

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She has lived in an adult foster home since. To my next great relief, even immediately following her move, she rarely mentioned her little house and still doesn’t recognize that I lied to her.

Sometimes I feel guilty about lying to her, but most of the time I am so thankful that she is safe and well-cared for at the home. They love her almost as much as I do.

For those of you who are struggling with dementia or related illnesses of the elderly, we are of one heart. It is difficult for me to watch this slow progression into the unknown. She doesn’t understand what is going on, or where she is going, she just knows it is terrifying at times.

The staff where she lives tell me about how she often wakes up scared at night. They tell about how they talk to her, sing with her, pray with her. I can barely get a coherent sentence from her when I see her, and I must repeat everything I say because she can’t remember what I told her just a few minutes ago, but her caregivers know exactly what to do.

I’ve told her about her great-grandson, my first grandchild; She is just as surprised every time I tell her, even if it is within 10 minutes of the first time I told her. She doesn’t remember that she is a mother, let alone a grandmother to two.

Recently, some hard decisions were made about the extent of care to provide should she have severe medical issues. It struck me hard that Mom is coming to the end of her life, perhaps not this week, this month or even this year, but my days with her are finite. There are no words of comfort that will make me feel any better about the eventual outcome for my mom, even though I know it is a part of life.

This Mother’s Day say thank you to God for gracing your life with the mother he gave you. Remember her with a smile, a kind word, and perhaps a kiss on the forehead.

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