I suppose that’s the wrong attitude, but despite the lovely gathering of family and another of friends, I found this season difficult. Some is the slow grieving that accompanies the loss of mom as we know her. And the rest is the introvert side of me that seems to be taking over. I love seeing people in small groups, but I find large gatherings stressful, intimidating .
But I have to say, when I see this photo of all of gathered, my heart is full. This doesn’t happen often- ever? So, the day was special to this mom, grandma, daughter, wife.
Why is that light on? Have I had dinner yet? Is today Christmas? Did you ever know your Dad?
It seems that Mom is all questions these days. Her Alzheimer’s is slow-growing. Is that even a way to describe it? We first noticed changes in her as Dad was dying ten years ago, though we attributed much of it to grief and stress. A year later, we realized she had changed, and the long journey began.
These days, she does little for herself. Nurses provide her meds and daily care. Her food is prepared and served at regular times. She has given up solitaire, church, even friends. I visit nearly every day, volunteer — exercise, anyone? — and keep her room organized and supplies updated. Is it enough? Probably not in her mind.
That means I am often waking at 3am wondering if she is ok. Is her bed dry? Is she bored? Will it upset her if we bring her to the house for the holidays? And truth be told, do I even want to?
Still, I am glad she knows me. I appreciate (most of the time) events with her like the party at the assisted living facility where she now lives. She has a “boyfriend” who sits at her dining table, though she forgets about him once he returns to his own room. Soon, she will struggle with knowing who I am. She will retreat into herself.
I take pictures of sunrises and sunsets. Often. I never tire of the oranges, pinks, and blues as they blend into one another.
When I’ve had a rough week (or day), I find one of the photos and stare at it, remembering how I felt when the colors surrounded me and my breathing changed. This morning I searched for this one– a day at the beach, a slight wind in the air. As I process troublesome thoughts, I know this morning is also a moment in time, and it will pass. There will be other gorgeous sunrises, signaling a new day, another chance.
There’s nothing like getting away. Far away. A river cruise to France helped me relax. It was hard to come home and find that Mom had worsened, had become less “with it,” was more confused. I need to shift my thinking now, need to figure out how to deal with this shift in her thinking. Alzheimer’s is a horrible illness. On one had it’s predictable. On the other, it’s devastating in its path to a complete break with reality. I keep fooling myself, thinking I can do something or fix her. But it’s coming. It’s coming.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”