Monday, October 11, 2010

Moments in Time

Her eyes sparkled and she smiled as she sat propped up with pillows on the sofa. We hugged her tightly as we greeted her and she tentatively touched our arms, polite in her non recognition of us. She is a short little lady and I couldn't help but notice how much less of her there was to hug. Mr Tibbs the rambunctious Sharpei sat vigil at her feet, never taking his eyes off her.

We chatted about pleasantries; we told her that she had just had a birthday and that she was now 98 years old. Her eyebrows lifted  in surprise and she exclaimed, "I am turning into an old lady", She laughed along with us. We complimented her on her crimson coloured finger nails (yup - blazing red) and she explained that a very nice lady had put them on for her. We told her that it was Thanksgiving and that we were about to sit down to a scrumptious turkey dinner. She simply smiled.

MIH worked hard to lift Nana up onto the high perch at the table. Nana looked down at the flowered china plate that had once graced her own table and commented, "This is very beautiful, isn't it?" Eureka! The flicker of recognition that MIH had so hoped for.

She said she wasn't hungry but proceeded to methodically clear her loaded plate of turkey and fixings. She didn't stop until it was scraped clean. She smiled across the table; she was clearly enjoying the moment. And that is what her life has come to - this is where Alzheimer's has taken her. She lives in the moment with little to no recollection of what has been and who is who. She knows she feels loved and she knows that she loves the sweet lady that is her daughter, who is now nameless.

We are generous with our hugs, snuggles and I love yous. She giggles and smiles and then momentarily breaks away to say "God bless you". After an hour and a half she starts to squirm in her seat anxiously. She stares out the window and comments that it will be dark soon and it is time to go back. MIH comforts her and rallies the family to help get Nana and her walker out to the Jeep. Kisses and hugs all around. As Nana stands she says, "I'll come again, OK?" I could feel the lump in my throat forming.

It is difficult beyond words to watch Nana suffer the ravages of Alzheimer's and even harder to see the pain that her daughter, my MIH, endures as she watches her mother slowly slip away into an unreachable abyss.

Who knows what the future holds? I just know that no matter what, MIH has the right idea. We don't worry if she needs yet another sweater or if she'll remember the hour drive to the house for dinner, or if she will even remember the good feelings she shared while she was in the cocoon of her loving family. The focus is on giving her moments of love and respite from her loneliness ... special moments in time. And no one does it better than my MIH.
Phew - what a Thanksgiving it's been. And I didn't even mention the new blue highlights our white bathroom sink is sporting courtesy of Kidlet's adventures in hair dyeing. OK .... maybe I just mentioned it ....

8 comments:

  1. It sounds as if the whole family surrounded itself in love for one another and that is enough for anyone whomever they are.
    xx

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  2. I imagine that that is sad and my heart goes out to your MIH because I can't imagine my mom not recognizing me - how incredibly painful. It's obvious that you love her to pieces and I'm sure she can feel that love all the way to her soul.

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  3. Youch, this one hit close to home. Gamma's passed the seventy-year-mark and as of now her mind seems intact, but the fear she'll start to slip is always in the back of my mind. I'm glad that your nana has such a wonderful family to be there for her!

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  4. Tx DIH!
    So beautifully portrayed. The joy of the moments given far outweigh the real sadness of it all. To see that smile and feel mom's happiness were the moments I was going for..... Together we all made it happen.

    MIH
    xoxoxox

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  5. What a beautiful post for such a sad and trying subject.
    I always believe that deep down a person with Alzheimer's (which both of my grandmas and one of my grandpas suffered with as well) there is a place where these memories are stored and where they fully understand what is going on and recognize their loved ones, so I believe that deep down your grandma was fully present with your family during Thanksgiving dinner this year, even though on the outside it was as if she wasn't 100% there.
    Another reminder that we need to take care of ourselves and our health now so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest through to the end.
    -Lisa

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  6. So beautiful!!! Thank you for showing the way to cope with this terrible disease...so loving...such an inspiration. You are truly a lovely lady, Lyn!!! Love, Janine XO

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