Monday, July 16, 2007

Disappering Into the Mist

Just about a year ago I posted some early morning thoughts on mortality. I was sitting on the deck with my aging mother, noting her increasing fragility and musing on the brevity of life. For some reason I felt the need to read that post last night.

Life has not been good for my mother lately. She already had dementia five years ago when she came to live with us, but things were manageable. Though homesick for her native state of Texas, she mostly enjoyed life. Last year's post found us waiting for the first visit from someone "outside"--a home-care aide. After a while mom improved and that stopped. Then a bit later, Laurie, a woman from our church, began coming on a fairly regular basis. Mom and Laurie had an uneasy truce, most of the time, and Laurie did a good job of caring for her even while my mom insisted she did not need help.

Then on April 28th this year, my birthday, mom had a stroke. She's had many smaller ones. This was more significant. She spent a week in the hospital, and has been at the nursing home ever since. She is not improving much. She is sad, angry, confused, disoriented and frustrated. Yesterday she was almost asleep during most of church and I wondered if it was time for churchgoing to cease. If so, that will be very difficult. As we pulled up to the curb in front of the nursing home, she looked at me angrily and asked, "What is this place? Why am I here? Why aren't you taking me to the house?"

Inside, she cried, then she fumed. She said, "I need my family. No one here helps me do anything anyway. " (Not so.) "You just don't care about me." When I said she could no longer walk unaided, and could not be alone, she responded with more anger. I left about that time. Poor woman.

I'm not being altogether rational about this. Yesterday I found myself thinking, "Perhaps she is right. Perhaps we could work something out, or perhaps I should stay home and care for her and work from home, or perhaps....." I know it is not going to happen, but I still feel guilty and sad and a little afraid that I am doing the wrong thing. We had quite a strange relationship, mom and I, and old ghosts can still haunt me sometimes.

Someone commented once about this. I apologize for not remembering who it was. But he or she was talking about their grandfather who had Alzheimer's and how it was like Grandfather was in a boat that was drifting farther and farther from the shore where they stood, disappearing slowly but inexorably into the mist. That is such a lovely, sad, but apt description. I can't stop the boat, I can't clear the mist, I can only stand on the shore and feel lonely and reach out with love but helplessness and grief. It is the same with my sister. She is lost in the mist, and I can't find her. I want to share this grief with her, because she would understand more than anyone. I miss her so much.

Meanwhile, this verse from my older blog post was comforting.

2 Corinthians 4:15-17 All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!

"Immeasurably great glory..." Oh Lord God, may it be so!


Theresa Coleman said...

Prayers to you today. I've had this struggle -- and it's a hard one.
I think of you often as you live with this and try to care for your mother.
Just know that I'm praying.

Jeni said...

I've been following your blog with particular interest in the issues with your mother, sister and the dementia. My Dad's surviving sister - now 90 -was removed from the family homestead, along with her severely handicapped daughter - a year ago the end of this August and they were placed in a nursing home, same room, so they could be together. My aunt's physical condition was such that it truly was a danger to herself, to her daughter, for them to remain in the home any longer. Initially, she was extremely angry, most particularly at my cousin who has power of attorney for her and it has taken all these months till she has finally accepted the necessity of their being where they are today. She too is displaying more and more dementia, along with her body failing her as well and it's been a very difficult time for her, for my cousin as well. I guess all one can do when faced with these situations is pray for guidance, acceptance of the issues too, and to keep reminding ourselves, "This too shall pass." Not an easy place to be regardless which side of the fence one is on there. My thoughts, prayers are with you as you cope with both your family members and the dementia issues.

LoieJ said...

Remember that the "condition" is speaking not your mom when she is angry. I'm sure it is very difficult to have to leave her in the NH.

Fortunately, my mom has been accepting, something everybody remarks about. I think she has had a lifetime of accepting some difficult things, such as a husband who was "very difficult." Euphemism, I guess, for my dad.

But mom has certain things that have to be "just so." I think she needs to control the few things that she can control.

I can't imagine letting go of so much.

HeyJules said...

I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. I haven't had to battle this particular struggle (yet) but I wonder what I'll do as my parents both begin to climb in age...

I'm just so very thankful that we have a Savior who loves us enough to help us carry all these burdens. I often wonder how we'd do it without Him.

Anonymous said...

*hug* I can't imagine how hard it is for you. I've had a hard enough time dealing with the end, and most of those happened quickly. Watching someone pass is rotten, watching it every day is agonizing. You're all in my prayers


net said...

((((Singing Owl))))

Prayers ascending. Love you!

zorra said...

Oh, Singing Owl. I have been there too, feeling the helplessness and the grief as my dad drifted farther and farther away. I pray for peace and wisdom for you.

DannyG said...

My brother, sister, and I are starting to have this conversation as concerns our 90 yr old father. He is starting to get physically unsteady and can be a bit forgitful (my brother gets pre-prepared meals for him, and has to count the inventory to make sure that he remembers to eat). It's not easy. (J)'s father developed full blown dementia in his early 60's. It almosk killed her mother taking care of him at home.