Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, May 12, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Light

So yesterday my post seemed only to see the shadows of mom's mind.  Today I witnessed some of the light.  I thought I would share.

It was a beautiful morning when I arrived at the Nursing Home, and she was happy to see me.  She seemed more alert than yesterday.

She asked for ice cream, but what she really wanted was a glass of water with ice.  Swallowing fluids is generally difficult now and all liquid are thickened for her.  Icy cold water was what she wanted without the thickening so I got her exactly that.  She enjoys the simple things in life now ... and a large glass of water with ice sipped slowly through a straw was do-able for her today.

But I did notice that picking words and completing sentences was hard today (ice cream for ice water is a prime example.)

We had a perfect day so we went out the front of the community and sat in the sun.   She remained alert enjoying the warmth of the sun.  So different from yesterday.  Yet not so different as communication was a struggle.

Soon a priest emerged from the entrance.  He recognized us and stopped to talk with mom.  It was a bit hard for mom, but this priest is a regular visitor and very skilled at interacting with all ranges of cognitive ability.

He was from New York and so was mom, so we chatted about that for a few minutes.

At one point, he directed a question to mom.  "So, Mrs. Mesavage, how old are you?"  Mom continued to smile at him but did not respond.  I thought maybe she didn't hear the question.  I regularly repeat questions aimed at mom with a slightly raised voice - making sure she can see my mouth.  I began to repeat the priest's question.

Before I could get passed the second word, mom turned to the priest and said,

"Can I lie?"

What a hoot!!

Not only was she following the conversation, not only did she have an answer ... a spark of her personality and humor emerged in a blinding flash of light for me.  I felt totally washed in it.  She was connected for that small period of time.  She continued to give the priest a dazzling smile waiting for his answer.  He laughed right out loud.  "Sure, why not!" he said.

She responded, "I am 81."


She is actually 88 - and maybe she couldn't remember her actual age, but my guess is that she did know for those few moments!  Of course, she probably didn't want too big a lie to answer for in the next life so she just shaved her age a bit.  :-)  And seriously, if the priest said she could lie, should she need to answer for anything at all???

Too funny!

Now if it was me, and I was going to lie to a priest, I would have made it a whopper!

"I am 29!!!"

Thank God for the spots of light.  It makes her not seem so far away!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Shadows

Today is Mother's Day and I would be remiss if I didn't recognize my mother on this day.  Her story has been so much a part of my blog and my life for years.

Mom struggling with her card.
I needed to open the envelope for her.
Today was a day for sun shine and flowers and cookies and a card!  Today was a day I had hoped the  shadows of her brain might clear a bit so she could enjoy this day.  But it was not to be.  She was happy to see me as I got a small smile on my arrival.  She briefly enjoyed the flowers I brought and she munched on a red sprinkled sugar cookie cut in the shape of a heart. But recognition of the holiday seemed lost on her.

We went outside to enjoy the sun shine - spending time in the center's gazebo is one of the things she likes to do.  But she promptly fell asleep.  Sleep seems to be her constant companion.  I have come to accept this.  It is enough that we spend time together.

Time to sit and think fills my visits.  My thoughts were interrupted by another family nearby.  They were sitting together with a grandmother in a wheel chair, and I could overhear them encouraging her.  She needed to work hard in PT and to eat all her meals and to not spend all her time in bed.  If she wanted to go home she needed to do these things ... otherwise she could not go home.

Such sadness I felt.  How many countless times I had that very same conversation with mom over our years together.  I tried to block out their voices.  Better to stay focused on the knitting I brought ... no sense in borrowing sadness when I had plenty of my own.

Shadows of the gazebo.
I looked up and saw the shadows of the gazebo about our heads.  How very much like the shadows of mom's brain that gazebo is - small spots of light and darkness.  When mom was admitted to the nursing home 6 weeks ago there were far more bright spots in her brain.  Lately the darkness seems to be gaining ground.

So on this Mother's Day I honor the woman my mother is!  She didn't have the easiest life but she raised her two daughters to be productive and caring members of society.  She held together her small  dysfunctional family when others might have given up.  She lived a long life with many satisfying and loved filled moments.  She might not remember any of this, but I do.

She does not suffer now.  She lives a calm life not disturbed by the loss of possessions and experiences.  For her Mother's Day is just like any other day.  It is as if her losses have been exhausted now - there is nothing more left for her to lose.

The Mother's Day card sat unopened on her lap.  She fell asleep while looking at the cover of the card.  I guess the warmth of the sun put her to sleep ... or maybe another bright spot is shrinking into shadow.

You are loved on this Mother's Day, mom.