Tag Archive | circle of life

Where are you? stings more now

Early on in Mama’s dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease – as I was grappling with understanding and accepting what was happening to her mind – it occurred to me that all humans go through an initial incline, a longer period of plateau, and then a final decline.

The decline mimics childhood in reverse, until if we live long enough we end up being like a newborn, totally helpless, totally dependent, unable to express ourselves except through the most primal language we humans have: laughter and tears.

I always told Mama that I’d do everything possible to make sure her second childhood was better than her first one. I did my best, making mistakes along the way (just like there are no instruction manuals for the day-in, day-out parenting of a child, there are no instruction manuals for becoming a parent to your parent, so you learn as you go), but assured that the one place I did not fail Mama was in making sure she knew she was loved, she was wanted, and I wasn’t going to leave her.

My hope is that in our simultaneous and shared journey of her taking two steps back and one step up and me taking two steps up and one step back that, in the end, my love, my care, my concern, my devotion, and my commitment was enough to make up for all the things I didn’t know, didn’t understand, and sometimes screwed up because of my own ignorance and ineptness.

This is not a journey for the faint-hearted. Once committed, even though no one ever really knows what they’re getting into, it requires a lot of tenacity and a lot of prayer. But it also requires unconditional love, abundant mercy, infinite patience, persistent gentleness, and unfailing kindness.

These are the life and character lessons parents learn from raising their kids. For those of us fortunate enough to complete the circle of life for our parents as they go gentle into that good night, we get the opportunity to learn these same life and character lessons.

It is a priceless gift and one I’m thankful to have received.

Dealing with Dementia

spiralstair A year a half ago, I posted an article entitled “Where are you?”  — and I’m still feeling the same guilt — only magnified. At least the last time I went through this stage and wrote about it (it is a recurring issue) my Dad was there with my Mom. Now I know my Mom is by herself. I also know based on my visits and from the staff reports that she is not doing very well in the community.

I get a call two hours after I visited asking me where I am and when I will be arriving and there is something frenetic in her tone.

She will go through these cycles. I imagine her decline is much like a child’s development, but in reverse. When my son was 4, someone shared that kids develop in an upward spiral — two steps forward, one step back. In my…

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Precious Story About the Circle of Life of Caregiving for Our Loved Ones With Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

Momma and Me had a wonderful story today about bedtime kisses. And how the circle of life has the daughter kissing her mama goodnight, then comforting her with further kisses throughout the night to allay her fears, to calm her back to sleep, awakening at all hours to make sure her mama feels safe enough to go back to sleep. She draws the parallel between this and her own childhood when her mama did the same for her.

It’s a poignant post as I imagine the many nights Mama got up with us, especially as babies and small children, to make sure we were calm, unfearful, and safe enough to go back to sleep. And I did the same for her as her days came to an end.

I’ve always been a light and up-and-down sleeper. I suspect Mama spent more time trying to get me back to sleep in my early years (as I grew older, I just stayed in bed awake, only getting up if I heard her up with one of her migraines pacing the halls, and then – now – as an adult, just getting up and often doing the same pacing she did) than I spent in her later years doing the same with her.

I wasn’t afraid of anything. I simply have never had a good sleep rhythm or pattern and that continues to this day. But, as I became Mama’s sleep comfort over the years, I realize that was a blessing that I was able to give her when she needed it.

As Mama did with me when I was small, I was able to return a lot of kisses to Mama as our roles reversed. I never put her to bed or back to bed without a kiss, a hug, and an “I love you.” When the nights were filled with the symptoms of Lewy Body Disease, I’d lie beside her and with one arm around her, hold her hand with my other free hand. It never failed to help, even if it didn’t completely stop it.

It’s the little things that make the difference. With babies and small children. With loved ones suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. They don’t cost anything but time and patience. This taught me about love in action. 

I’m thankful I had Mama and Daddy to model this for me as a child so it came naturally to me as an adult.

Remember the gifts your parents gave you, the sacrifices they made for you, the love they surrounded you with as they grow old and need the very same things from you. Life is a circle and those of us who are younger – well, everything in the universe in counting on us to complete it.