The Long Good-bye

Just a few years ago, my sister and I were sitting in a Dr’s office with our mom.  He kindly looked into Mom’s eyes and said,

“Kay, you have dementia.”

My heart dropped at the directness and finality of his diagnosis.

Mom calmly and quietly sat there with a smile on her face.

As the doctor explained and laid out what the next days, weeks, and years would mean, he broke his dialogue and asked,

“Kay, do you understand anything I’m saying?”

She smiled and said in her cheery little voice,

“Nope.  Not at all!”

Bless her little heart.

***

My mom is in a home now.  Her cheery little voice is rarely heard any more.  I’ve been warned that when I get to hug her neck in a while, she will not know who I am.  I’ve tried to brace myself for that.…

me and mom cropped

It’s been described to me that watching someone digress with dementia is a “long good-bye”.  I find that to be an apt description.   I can’t deny the pain of it, and realize that although my mom is still living, I am constantly mourning the losses of who she used to be.  It comes in waves, and I’ve learned to just not fight it.  Right now I miss her so much, my heart hurts and stomach aches.

But, once the ache eases up, I try to recognize that the very act of mourning should cause me to be thankful.  Because it is the lessons taught, laughter shared, and blessings given that gives me such treasured memories to mourn.  Without the blessings there wouldn’t be the loss.  Today, I want to be thankful for the blessings…

***

I got a sweet message the other day from a friend / relative that I haven’t seen in many, many years.  She was back visiting in my home town, and in the short time she was there visited my mom three times.  That alone blessed my heart.  Then she went on to say that she sang with Mom.  “She still remembers the words to the hymns, and when given a hymn book, she played the piano.”

I was so excited to hear that.  I’ve often wondered if her music has left her, and am so glad that it hasn’t.

Along with the note this dear lady sent me was the name of a song she wanted me to listen to. Listen, I did.  I also cried enough to fill three buckets…

In the days following the note and song shared, I’ve been pondering a lot of things about my mom and Jesus.

One of the most precious promises I hold on to is that Jesus will never leave me.

And, even in her confusion, He hasn’t left my mom either.

That gives me comfort.

***

{Here is the song my dear friend told me about… by the Booth brothers}

Linking up:  At the Picket Fence

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20 Comments

  1. Ah sweetie! I don’t know from first hand experience what you are going through but merely as an observer. A friend of ours here is going through the very same thing. I will definitely keep you in my prayers! Isn’t it wonderful that we can have the assurance that no matter what, if we have accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior that he will NEVER leave us or FORSAKE us! I don’t know what I’d do without that assurance…. Love ya!

  2. Rita, thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us. It is with this honesty and transparency that shows your love for Jesus and your trust in His promises. One day you will meet your mom in heaven and she will know you not only as her daughter but also as a sister in Christ. Praying for you and your mom right now!

  3. Ahhh, Rita, you have truly touched my heart today 🙂 Thank you for sharing. The one thing I’ll always remember about your Mom was her laugh 🙂 I’m so thankful she has the Lord with her always 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing. Your mother was a part of all my growing up years and it’s so sad to see her now. My mother is going down that path as well. God was so gracious as to move us here in time for me to act as her caregiver and so to allow her extra time at home. The role of caregiver has the benefit that I am seldom shocked by the changes since I am here to see the gradual decline. I am comfortable with her as she is but there are still times that a really miss my Mommy.

  5. Indeed, it is a difficult path, as we travelled it too with my mom. However, we realized it was a blessing as the Lord was “weaning” us from her, giving us the opportunity to still have her here to hug, hold her hand and care for her as she had so lovingly cared for us. We know He knows what is best for each one, even though not easy.

  6. Rita – I stumbled across your blog tonight while blog-hopping. I truly believe that God led me here. As I was reading your beautifully written, heartfelt post with tears in my eyes, my own mother came to mind. She, too, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few months ago. She is 79 years old. My dad is currently acting as caregiver…for now….because as a 79 y/o man, I see the toll mom’s terrible disease is taking on him, too. I make the hour drive a couple times a week to spend the day with them and make sure things are getting done in the house that mom used to take care of. When I posted about my mom’s diagnosis, I was amazed at the number of blog friends who wrote saying that they had or are traveling the same journey. They offered support, encouragement, love and prayers. So tonight, I am sending all of that on to you. Know that you are not alone…..ever. Bless you for being the loving daughter that you are and always will be. ♥

    xoxo laurie

  7. With tears in my eyes I sit and type this comment…we have watched our parents experience this with their parents and we know that odds are we will have to as well. I just want to say thank you so much for being so vulnerable and for sharing from your heart. It is obvious from the other comments that you have used your own painful journey to bless and minister to others! Thank you so much for sharing this at Inspiration Friday!
    Vanessa

  8. Thanks for sharing this post. Visiting from At The Picket Fence….. My mom is going through this as well, in fact I wrote a post about her but had not published it. Now I think I will, just to share with others. Very nice post!

  9. Dear Rita…
    My eyes welled up as I read your story. my father was diagnosed with vascular dementia back in december although i know it was a long time in coming. i silently watch the subtle changes as diffeernt parts of his mind and memory slip away. He is a man who at one time could fix anything…if i had a broken toy or heart, my dad could fix it just like that. Now I see that far away look in his eyes and i know that in that moment he is confused. Sadly he won’t admit to having a problem although some of the things he always loved to do like cooking dinner and driving his car, he has begun to scale down in doing. I know I am not alone and that many children of my age are dealing with this issue with a parent…but i felt uplifted when you wrote that God is still there for your mom. i know he has an arm around my father and will take care of him as things progress. I also know there is also an arm around myself and my family…helping us to cope with these changes in our lives and as we begin to say our own good-byes.
    Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story.
    God bless and keep you…
    Barbara

  10. Dear Rita,
    Oh, how your post touched me today! I cannot bring myself to listen to the song yet but I will one day. My Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was pregnant with my first child. It was so hard to be dealing with – she was my rock and my best friend. I became her caregiver as far as decision making, health care, finances, etc. We moved her to an assisted living facility and my husband and I and our baby moved to the same town to be close to her. It was such a long road, but at the same time it was too quick. She passed away 2 1/2 years ago – it was unexpected and oh, so hard to accept. Over the 5 years from her diagnosis to her passing, I went through such a roller coaster of emotions. I was mad because she wasn’t the “Mom” she was “supposed” to be, I was upset that my children wouldn’t know her the way she was before the diagnosis, etc. One day I felt the Lord telling me, “she took such good care of you all of these years, you need to take care of her the same way”. It was an eye opener! I truly believe it was a blessing to be there for my Mom. My heart and soul ache to this day from her loss. I know exactly what you mean when you say it is a “long good-bye” but it’s so awesome to hear that with the Lord’s help, you are treasuring the moments you do have with your Mom. I am grateful to have come across your post today on At The Picket Fence! What’s funny is, when I was scrolling down the post, the picture of you and your Mom caught my eye and I thought “oh, she reminds me of my Mom” and then I saw what your post was about. Praying for you to treasure each and every moment with your Mother – I know it’s hard but God’s grace is so amazing and He will get you through!
    Blessings,
    Laura

  11. Oh My, I understand completely what you are going through. My mother is in a home right now and she doesn’t know who I am even though I visit almost daily. She just recently fell and broke her hip so this has been a very tough last two weeks for her. She doesn’t understand about the hip fracture and of course doesn’t remember falling. I have blogged about her numerous times and it hurts but helps so very much to share. It helps to know that they are others that are and can survive this painful time. My prayers are with you and you family.
    PS Our Neurologist says that music is so important to an Dementia patient, they remember songs much longer than other things in their life.

  12. My heart aches for you. I have traveled deep into the depths of Alzheimers with my dear Mom. She passed away a year ago and I do miss her so much.

    She didn’t know always me in the end, but I acted like her friend. I hugged her and kissed her and she sang Amazing Grace for me. In the months before she passed she sang a lot. Sometimes Amazing Grace and other times ‘She’ll be coming around the Mountain.’

    She seemed so content when she was singing ……..
    Cherish this time with your mom, she is still your mom and she is still teaching you……teaching you how to love her.

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