Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aging - walking a new terrain

The past month has been a journey for our family. My brother returned to the Philippines in early April to bring our mother back to the States. I am truly grateful for all he has done for her. It has been a hard road and one that has been filled with more emotions than I even know how to put into words.

My brother and his amazing family have stepped up and done so much. It has been a challenge for the family ... my brother, his family, my sister, myself ... and of course those close to us. I am learning that I am not alone. So many others have gone through the process of caring for elderly parents ... and when dementia/alzheimer is in the picture ... (my mom is definitely showing signs of them, although she has not been officially diagnosed by a neurologist yet) ... it adds an entirely new level of complexity and challenges.

As I walk this new terrain, I find myself having to retreat inwards, searching for that part of me that is calm, compassionate, patient, and centered. As I repeat my answers for the 100th time, I remind myself to take deep breaths ... she doesn't remember. As I witness desperation and hear hurtful words come out, I remind myself, it's not really my mother. My phone rings over and over and over again each day ... desperate phone messages. I used to cringe when my phone would ring. I would try reasoning with her ... to no avail.

Then the other night, I think my Papa must've infused me with his spirit and compassion for her ... I think he opened my heart and eyes up to see the world through her eyes. Now all i see is a frightened, frail woman. She's scared to death. She's desperate to feel loved. She's a prisoner of a mind/memory that is failing her and creating a new reality for her, often filled with paranoia ... yet it is her reality.

Today, I pray for the courage and strength to walk with my mom in her reality; to walk with love, patience and understanding. I also pray for the strength to accept what my limitations are, and to care and nurture myself, so that I can continue to be there for my mother.

I found the following poem on the internet... may it serve to remind me of my mom's reality, and what is now my reality, and the reality of our family.

Do not ask me to remember. 

Don't try to make me understand. 

Let me rest and know you're with me. 

Kiss my cheek and hold my hand. 

I'm confused beyond your concept. 

I am sad and sick and lost. 

All I know is that I need you 

To be with me at all cost. 

Do not lose your patience with me. 

Do not scold or curse or cry. 

I can't help the way I'm acting, 

Can't be different 'though I try. 

Just remember that I need you, 

That the best of me is gone. 

Please don't fail to stand beside me, 

Love me 'til my life is done. 

- Author Unknown 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your words of wisdom. And the poem speaks volumes. I wish for you strength for the path ahead. Remember it is OK to ask for help for yourself and siblings. This is not a time to buck up and do it alone. Bless you for taking care of your mom.