by Lori Bradeen
This week held the day my sisters and I hoped would never come. We are separated by many miles but we are close in heart and always only a text away. Lynn, being the oldest sibling and living in the same area as mom has become her caregiver since the onset of dementia, the thief of mom’s memories. After reading an email from Lynn detailing one of those tough caregiver moments she had experienced that morning, I picked up the phone and called. I chatted with mom for a bit first. Telling her yet again, what is happing in my kids’ lives. After our little chat she handed the phone to my sister and we strategized my upcoming visit to help. It was after Lynn and I ended the call that it happened. Mom turned to Lynn and said, “How do you know my daughter?” Mom was referring to me. Lynn, who cares for mom daily, was stunned at the window into mom’s dimming world. And in true oldest sibling form, she swallowed the knot in her throat, put a smile in front of her tears and said, “Well mom, because I am your daughter too.” My mom put her hands to her head in her own disbelief and said, “ I had no idea!”
No idea?! Really? When did mom being a little forgetful turn into mom having no idea who her firstborn daughter is? I guess we knew this day would come, but today, already? Damn you, dementia! Every time dementia takes a piece of her mind it takes a piece of our hearts too.
Dementia is a thief with no conscience. I really hate it, this week especially. My revenge is to find something redeeming.
It can’t take everything. It can’t take the faith that resides in mom’s spirit and it can’t take our love. Being forgotten by your own mother is indeed a milestone of the worst kind but it was trumped by the grace that flowed from my sister the instant she found out mom didn’t know the daughter in front of her. In the midst of the moment, my sister responded with, “Mom, it’s ok if you don’t know who I am, because I know who you are.” The next few moments were filled with a hug, some tears and the clanking of glasses full of blackberry soda as mom offered a toast to her new found belonging, “cheers, daughter,” she said. It was reason to celebrate because in that instant she went from being alone to belonging, from lost to found. For the moment, all was right again.
Sometimes God whispers truth. This was one of those moments for me. My sister’s loving response in the face of being forgotten is a picture of how God loves us. This world can be tough. We lose our way. We lose our perspective, our hope, our joy, and even our purpose. In those moments, just like my precious mother who finds herself again in the love of her daughter, we are found in the love of the Father. It’s not in “doing” that we are found, it is in “being,” being loved by a heavenly Father. In our lostness we need to look heaven’s way because He is looking at us. He is looking at you, and I can hear him saying, “It’s OK, because I know who you are.”
Join us as we partner with Alzheimer’s Association to Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Join our Washington walks in Redmond/Eastside, Seattle, Snohomish County or find a walk near you.