How can God use something straight from the pit of hell? Alzheimer’s or Dementia affects people in various ways. Some revert to a child and gentle, some become the complete opposite of their former self – where they were sweet, grumpy, or some like my mom, become fearful, delusional, and wander. Horrible fear fuels their behavior is sometimes violent. This is my perspective on the journey I had with my mom in her last years. I cannot speak for my dad, Randy, my brother or my kids. We were all changed in various ways. This is just my story with my mom and God.
Last week’s blog, I honored my mom and who she was in my life and many others. This week I am strive to be even more transparent and let Jesus shine through some of my weakest moments. This stone is very small but very heavy. It could seem insignificant in contrast to a lifetime of living, but any event, any moment in the hand of God can become monumental.
Randy and I built a ‘love shack in the back’ (as my dad called it) in our backyard for my parents. It is a nice little one bedroom apartment. We saw that my parents’ health was declining and we wanted them to be near us. BUT when they moved in, dad could no longer cover for mom’s memory loss and unusual behavior. Plus the Alzheimer’s was advancing and my mom was becoming more and more trapped in her body as her mind and personality began to die. The mind is amazing. It is the seat of how we perceive our realities. It is the lifeblood of our personalities. I pray almost daily now that I would know God as the Savior of my Soul – my mind, emotions and will. I thank God, He has given me a sound mind and fear will not get the upper hand. I am convicted to eat properly and exercise my brain, not in fear but in wisdom.
Mom went through several UTI’s and was hospitalized several time. We became very familiar with the ER but NEVER comfortable. With each stint to the hospital she sunk deeper into Alzheimer’s. She would fight the nurses and doctors and often try to pull out her IV’s. She was afraid. Fear paralyzed all rationality. On one occasion as she was released from the hospital, Dad was scheduled to go into the hospital for some circulatory procedures. I arrived home from work, pulled into the garage and while I was talking on the phone, I felt someone looking at me —it was mom standing at my car door window, peering at me. I jumped a mile. She was petrified, she had been with a strange man (which was my dad) all day and couldn’t find my dad. This incident and many others started causing concern for both Randy. The fear coupled with the delusions made it possible that she could hurt dad as he slept in his chair, thinking she was protecting herself and us. We caught her repeatedly trying to get out of the apartment at night only to be trapped in the garage. We knew things weren’t going well.
My dad was admitted into the hospital. We chose this time to place her in a private care group that was in a home near our house. That lasted not even a month. I was called at work at 10;30 a.m. and was told I had until 5:30 p.m. that day to move her. It was recommended that I force admit her into a memory care hospital and get her medicines. She had become a danger to herself and others. Dad was in the hospital. What was I to do?
From a very young age, my mom had me repeatedly promise that I would not allow her to be put in a mental hospital or a nursing home. I was conflicted. I didn’t know what to do! My boss let me take the day. I cried out to God. I had a short time to make unpopular decisions. God kicked into high gear in my heart. Grace came over me through all my tears. Where I was weak, He was strong. I began to make phone calls. Randy did not want mom to be in the Lubbock memory care hospital . He had been there several times with a friend. There was only one choice. I had heard it was 2-3 months wait to get into this particular hospital. I called, explained the situation. They said they would admit her and come get her from her present location before 5:30 p.m. God made a way! I would have to relinquish my medical power of attorney while she was being diagnosed and meds stabilized. Fear tried to creep in. I literally cried to God, “I don’t trust them, but I trust You. Order my steps and let me make the right decisions!” When they came to get my mom, she was scared, and began to fight them. She was refusing to go. They had told me not to go over there. I was crying and praying at home. I received a phone call. They thought that maybe if I talked with her she would go with them. When I got on the phone, I was met with a hurl of words spoken with anger, fear and confusion. She questioned everything about my love for her and the promises I had made her. I had to make a choice. Was I going to let the words paralyze me or was I going to love my mom and make the hard choices. As tears ran down my face, I just kept telling her to please go with them and I loved her. I heard the people yell at me just to hang up. I did. I got in my car. Drove and parked a block away, prayed and watched. As I drove I prayed and complained to God, “I just wish she knew that I am trying to love her. I’m trying to make the best decisions for her and others’ good. . . . Have you ever felt that way?” As I stilled my heart, I heard God reply, “Yes, like right now.” Here I was complaining to God in a similar way that my mom was fussing at me. I immediately was blanketed in peace though the tears still poured. This was truly one of the most painful things I did during the last year and half. I broke every promise I made to my mom. It was THE day I really lost my mom. I grieved for a year and a half, until she was released from her body and entered Heaven.
Not too long after that day, Randy asked me, “Do you realize that your mom could die hating you?” Out of the depths of my heart that even surprised me I answered through tears, “Yes, but isn’t that what love does? It makes the hard decisions even if you never are loved back.” That day my relationship with God and the way I loved others became less selfish. I changed.
I traveled to the town to the memory care hospital that my mom was being kept. As I talked to her team of doctors the first time my tears wouldn’t stop. I think I flooded the whole conference room with my tears. They asked me if I was afraid to see my mom. I shook my head yes. They told me to come back next week, to let me heart beat a few times before I saw her and let them balance her meds. I did that. However, I had to decide on a long term memory care facility. I only had two weeks.
Again, God directed my steps. It had to be a double lock down unit as my mom was mobile and would wander. I checked every facility in Lubbock. I settled on one in my heart. But again I was told there would not be a place for two months or more likely six. I called, explained the situation. God gave me favor. They literally moved people around to make room for my mom. Alzheimer’s had so gripped her mind that she was moved to the final hall with in a couple of months. I remember the day I went to decorate that room and it dawned on me, that would be her last. She would die here.
Throughout the last year and half, I had several wonderful talks with mom and several not so wonderful. I am extra grateful for the few lucid moments. I learned to laugh at what could have been very sad situations. I watched my dad love her so well. I was doused in love given freely by friends and family that went beyond the call of duty. My husband, our kids, our friends and our church held my arms up in the battle and in my grief. They filled in the gaps for my mom and my dad several times when we were out of town. Thank you is not big enough to express my heart.
The kids in COTR KDO PrayGround became my life line to God’s perspective. They kept me grounded and able to laugh, receive love and made each day the “Best Day Ever”. They are quick to see the Kingdom and eternity.
My mom died May 7. She saw angels, had no fear, no pain. Right now, she is seeing Jesus face to face! God is gracious to us. A couple of nights before my mom left, a friend was awakened from his sleep, hearing what he thought was my mom’s voice calling out that she was leaving! Maybe it was a dream or maybe her spirit had already started leaving her body. I think she was probably trying to tell his wife, one of her good friends, but her friend wouldn’t wake up 🙂
This stone is little. But this stone is heavy with the wieghty-ness (the Glory) of God. This little stone impacts my past, my present and my future. I feel like my very heart, the person I am, has been deepened, strengthened. I cry out in full victory as I gather this stone for the alter I will stand on in the land of promise, “There is no sting in death.” and “Love conquers!”
Do you have any small but heavy stones to gather? How do they impact your past, present and future?
Originally posted June 9th, 2017