Chapter 12 – Finding Gifts

I have carried a great deal of this in my heart for the last few years. It has been too difficult to talk about it as I travel this journey. You are in survival mode and you just keep moving forward dealing with each change as it comes. This disease is so devastating as you find yourself grieving the loss of your parent over and over again. They change and you have to adapt to that change. I am so thankful that this has been a very slow moving disease in our case.

Mom was diagnosed 4 years ago and while many things have changed we are so thankful that she is as well as she is. I talk to her daily and try to be prepared for the day I meet a different Mother. As caregivers we have to keep moving forward, staying on top of the changes so we can be there to do what needs to be done.  Mom and I  do not talk about life like we once did. It is so hard to see the woman who you have always depended on being someone different. The child in me struggles at times, but that is my own personal journey to deal with. I miss my Mom.

I know how blessed our family is. I know that my Mom is going to be 88 years old and the fact that she is still with us is a wonderful gift. That does not mean that this disease the last 4 years has not been extremely difficult. She is happy right now. The retirement home has been great and she is so content, it is wonderful. She loves to share what she is going to do with her friends. I smile when I think about this, it’s like children in school hanging out! The changes have been challenging and as I have shared with you through these chapters of our lives, sometimes more than I know how to handle.

We share so many wonderful gifts her and I. She recently told me how proud she is of the person I have become and what a strong wonderful parent I am. This of course brought tears to my eyes and such joy to my heart. I am so extremely thankful to still have these moments. I have such empathy for those who have to deal with their parent not knowing who they are. I pray that we don’t have to go there, but if we do then I will find the strength to handle that as well. The silent strength is another gift I receive from my Mother.

Recently I have seen changes and her memory has gotten worse. She is not able to retain any recent events. I have done a great deal of reading about music and Alzheimer’s disease. Mom may not know what she had for lunch but when she sits down at the piano to play, it is so cathartic for her. She does not play by ear but she is still able to read music and plays so many of the “old tunes”. She finds such comfort in this and so do I. To share that time at the piano with her is such a wonderful moment. These are the things you want to freeze in time.

To all of you who are struggling through this journey with someone you love, I hope this has helped you to know that you are not alone. This has been very healing for me to share this part of our story and if something from this journey of ours has touched you I am glad. Each day brings new rewards and struggles. It is up to us to take the time to find the positive gift in each of them.