It seems that life just doesn't play fair. I realize that there's good and bad aspects to all areas of life, and that it isn't supposed to be all chocolate covered cherries, but you never stop to realize that the darker areas, the parts that affect others, will at some point come and affect your life.
2 years ago, my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I remember the day I got the news, it was shortly after my birthday. Not the present I was hoping for. Looking back now, I think we all knew something was wrong. There were forgotten words, and misplaced items, and little moments of confusion. There was a little more dust and a little more clutter than was typical for Mom, but we all "ignored" it. I think we were just hoping and wishing and praying it would somehow just magically go away. We hoped it was just because life had been unfair for Mom - blood poisoning while on holidays that earned her an Ambulance ride and a hospital stay and a little bit of uncertainty on what was going to all happen. (She was deathly ill) Her Dad being ill with Parkinson's, and then passing away and the stress and tension that goes with that. We hoped that it was just the stress of all of that, that was causing what we were seeing. But it was when extended family and friends took us aside and asked what was wrong with Mom that we really began to look at what was going on, and realized that there were some concerns.
Mom and Dad seemed to handle the diagnosis with grace and wisdom, knowing that it would get worse, but staying positive. In looking back at talking with Mom, I think she was staying strong for us, being a support to us as we came to grips with the diagnosis. I can remember seeing her often with her Bible on her lap. God's grace was getting her through this. And it is His grace that continues to get us and Dad through this. I do not understand why us, why her, but I will not let go of His continued grace and love shown to us through now and the following years. He is in ultimate control.
Over the next year, the illness encroached on daily life. More forgotten words, more lapses in memory, but she was still Mom - still teasing, still laughing and still talking. This last year, we noticed more progression of the illness. Mom withdrawing from conversation, as she couldn't follow the flow of all the chatter going on around her. A little more anger and abruptness instead of the patience and kindness she always displayed. Meals becoming later and later in the day until she just finally stopped meal prep at all. Her sense of time disappeared and conversations were repeated often.
Some of the moments were funny and sad all at the same time. When we were at the farm for Christmas, Mom wanted to put on a dress, but needed help. So she asked if I could help her. Well, as she was getting undressed, she saw her bra and wondered why on earth she had to wear one of those, and why she even had those things on her front. So me being the not so shy one of the bunch, lifted my own shirt and said I hated wearing one as well, but as girls we just had to wear one! (Blushing a little now!) But it did seem to calm Mom down. Yeah, I realize I flashed my Mom, but it's something I can chuckle about, it's a bit of light in my dark. And while it seems like an odd moment to cherish, it did still feel like a connecting moment with Mom, and I will always cherish it. Especially as just a few short weeks later, we'd learn that the illness has progressed even further, and that she doesn't know me anymore.
Last week, I got a call from my Nanny (Mom's Mom), wondering if I knew what was going on with Mom. See, Mom always called her Mom - every day, and on that day - she never called. So Nanny called her, and Mom wouldn't talk with her. She was angry and mad, and wasn't making sense at all. So Nanny called me. And I got in touch with Dad. To learn that the illness is progressing - quickly it seems now. Mom had started hallucinating, and not wanting to eat or drink or sleep. There was another lady in the house, who was stealing Mom's things, and Mom's hands and feet didn't belong to her anymore - they were the other lady's. By the weekend, Mom was in the hospital, a severe bladder infection seemed to be the culprit of the hallucinations. So some meds to take care of the infection and some meds to help control the hallucinations and a weekend stay in the hospital. She's at home now, but the confusion has gotten worse. Dad hopes that with some time, the confusion will lessen, but for now, this could be the new norm. She doesn't remember me or my hubby or my boys. It's hard hearing. It's even harder hearing her voice and realizing she's talking with you because Dad asked her too, and that she doesn't know who you are - I was a stranger she was politely talking with. I wept today... I don't cry often, I tend to keep my emotions under too much control. It would probably be better if I did let loose and cry and scream and vent, but I can't, I don't....
Dad says it's like a light switch - on for a good day, off for a bad. And you have no idea how fast the switch can be flipped. Yesterday was a hard day, but by last night, Dad said the switched flipped, and Mom knew everyone, and was excited to be headed here next weekend to see me, the hubby and kids, she was excited to see Sis #2 and her youngest when they come to the farm next week... This is wonderful news that the switch flipped, but it's hard news because we know that it won't last, and it might be a day, an hour, a week, but that switch will flip again and again. It's hard hearing the news as the emotions take a beating. Such a roller-coaster!
It's almost impossible to carry on day to day life when ones heart and brain are 800km's away. But I find a distraction and let that distraction rule my life so that I have something else to think about. The next two weeks will be that distraction as our Church is producing a big drama and as Stage Manager, I need to be focused on that. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I will be headed out to the farm the week after the drama is done. And if prayers are answered, the confusion will be less by then as well. If not, then we take one day at a time. And that's what it is. Dad tells me that every day... "one day at a time".
And so, one day at a time, I will get through this. We will get though this.