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.