Saturday, September 29, 2012

How's Your Mom?

My mom is the little girl in the pictures. It struck me as I was looking at them that God knew on the day each photo was taken what her future would hold. What a great honor it is to have been chosen to share the gospel with her and to see her baptized in June 2009, and now to be taking care of her towards the end of her life.

Several people have asked me lately how she is. Until now I've been very careful not to share anything that would get back to her and humiliate her. Unfortunately, that's no longer a concern because her Alzheimer's has progressed to the point that she not only can't read my blog, but she also has a very tough time holding a conversation. For instance, we met a neighbor during a walk a couple of days ago who told us he restores old tractors. When he pointed to a '38 John Deer he recently acquired, my mom proudly told him that she owns a '38 Chevy. (She doesn't.)  Another man recently told us about losing his business to which my mother replied, "Oh, that's good!" I find myself explaining her condition to strangers so they won't think she's crazy or just plain rude.

Being in public with mom is stressful in that we never know what to expect. For example, her depth perception is skewed so she brings her foot up to knee level to step off of a curb and flinches if someone passes within a few feet of her at the grocery store, thinking that they'll run into her. Sometimes she thinks she recognizes a person and speaks to them as if they're old friends or, if someone actually does recognize her, she obviously has no idea who they are.

The bulk of the challenges come from our daily routine at home though. Living with mom is, I suspect, a bit like adopting a child with special needs. Her speech has regressed so that she pluralizes words and says things like "ices", "toilet papers", and "cat foods". When something is empty she says it's "dead" and she calls sweetener "softener". She has a hard time finding the right word in general. She calls me mom pretty much all the time now and makes hand gestures to get her point across, like grabbing at her zipper to say she needs a bathroom. I tell her when it's time for a shower and show her how to wash her face. She still brushes her own teeth and even flosses as long as I cut the floss for her. She also often has trouble getting a fork to her mouth or stepping into her pants. I prepare all of her food and usually at least help her get herself dressed. Last week at church I looked down to see her wearing two different shoes--both right foot. She wants to be helpful so I include her in rinsing the dishes and folding towels. She sits in a chair while I do yard work and is happy to get me a cup of water, provided I give her the cup. (She can't find those on her own.)

Mom gets frustrated with how "fast" and "loud" the kids are and she often gets angry with me for something completely irrational, like when I tell her not to eat something she just picked up off the floor or I ask her to wash her hands after she's used a public restroom. She talks to herself, and she follows me around most of the time. I have to remind her to talk to the kids and hug them once in a while. They treat her well but obviously have a hard time adapting to her becoming less capable in some ways than even the youngest, with whom she often argues. We are all struggling to adapt to our new lives together. Though I would selfishly like much more support from family and friends, I am thankful for the support we are getting and know that the lonely times give us a stronger connection to God and make us more useful to him. So we're thankful for the opportunity we find ourselves in and praise God for his goodness and mercy in finding us worthy for such a task.


  1. Sweet Samantha,

    I know this is a difficult season of life you are in right now. I admire the way you are honoring your mother by caring for her so lovingly. I am praying for you and your sweet family and asking the Lord to fill your cup til it overflows. Know that you are very loved!

  2. Great pictures guys!

    Hang in there I will be praying for you during this difficult time.

  3. Wow, Sam! I had no idea that this was your daily life right now! Lifting you all up in prayer right now!