Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mom's Best Decision Ever

October 2012
April 2013
November 2013

Life in Texas has finally become something more than just taking care of my mother with Alzheimer's, but her needs are still a primary focus and, ultimately, the reason we are here. I don't blog about her much, but people do often ask how she's doing. It's not a pleasant question to ask or answer, which is why I greatly appreciate anyone who goes out on that limb. The harsh reality is that my mother is dying and will never again be well in this life. What I've come to realize is that the best way to answer inquiries about my mom is with how my family is doing. That seems to be what most people are really asking anyway.

I realize this is a difficult discussion not many people enjoy. It's also quite painful for me, though I deal with it on some level every day, whether it be paying her bills, communicating with her doctor, making sure she has comfortable clothes as her weight fluctuates, or painstakingly sifting through every piece of paper and all of her personal belongings that remain in boxes. Then there's the grim task of funeral arrangements and other necessary evils that make life less than palatable. That's not to mention the visits which become more and more difficult as we debrief the kids on "what's happening to Grandma." They have witnessed more than their share of tears and don't enjoy the visits like they used to when Grandma would play or dance with them. Last week was the first time she didn't recognize me right away and had difficulty getting up from her chair. She had already forgotten the children, as Alzheimer's tends to erase the most recent memories first. I asked Mom last week what my name is and she answered with a smile, "Elizabeth Jane Rayson" (her maiden name).

During this sad time, I try to dwell on pleasant memories--and there are many--like her famous spaghetti sauce, the slumber parties she hosted for my birthday each year, her dependable goodnight kiss and hug, and the fact that she made it a point to visit me everywhere I have ever lived--and that's a lot of places. She was also one of the nicest, most forgiving people I have ever known. She was very adventurous and had a wonderful sense of humor. I'm also learning to appreciate her patience in parenting five kids more and more as my three grow, as well as the fact that her financial prudence now makes it possible for me to take care of her affairs without going into debt. She was a great mom and a wonderful friend. I say "was" because my beautiful mother is gone and there is only a shell of a person in her place. That's one thing that makes these last years, months, or weeks (as the case may be) so very difficult.

Another is that, though I'm living in my hometown, I have little to no contact with any of my family members. I'll spare you the details, as I'm sure you understand dysfunction. That has been one of the most painful aspects of this chapter of my life. Lest you think I lament, I have not given up hope in God's ability to change people, and there is a silver lining here. You see, my husband recently had an epiphany. He said the pain and suffering that this chapter has caused me--losing my mother and finally letting my family go--has greatly changed who I am for the better. He feels I have transformed as a wife and mother and, the way he looks at it, God is using our current situation to bring about those changes. John has always had a great relationship with my mom, but has a new-found appreciation for the way God has chosen to use her life to bless his. He baptized her about four years ago because, as she put it, "I've been listening to you and watching what you do all these years, and I want to be a Christian." Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and we didn't have much time to grow with her in Christ, but John feels the transformation in my life is God's gift to him. Right now, I feel more beat up than transformed, but I am deeply moved by his perspective and once again awed by God's ability to work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Recent developments had us thinking we would be handling Mom's affairs long distance, but God has graciously given us a local ministry for the time being and I hope to be here for her last day on this earth. The rest of my family has not made the decision to follow Christ that my mom made. They've chosen different paths, but I'm not going to beat them up. I get it. I was there when my dad went to prison, when my younger brother drowned, and when my oldest brother was admitted into the mental institution. I've seen what drugs, alcohol, and anger can do. I know pain and I know it's impossible to handle well without God, and I choose not to live that way any more. I also know what it's like to turn it all over to Him and gain a new family--one that will be together forever--and I choose that. Knowing my mother made that decision also and is part of my eternal family has made this, otherwise unbearable part of the journey, endurable.

26 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry and I understand the pain...I will always remember her delicious cheesecakes

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    1. Thanks, Esen. Oh ya, I had forgotten about the cheesecakes! I think I'll make one.

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  2. I pray that God continue to give you the strength you need in this very difficult time of your life. We love you and miss you!

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    1. Thank you so much, Maria. We love and miss you, too.

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  3. I started reading your your blog to my wife as we sit together by the fire in the fireplace but I can't read very well with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I love you and your family and share your pain.

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    1. I know you understand. Thank you so much for your sensitive heart and for taking the time to respond with kind words. We love you, too.

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  4. Sammy, thank you so much for sharing as i can only imagine how difficult this is for you and John and the boys. We pray for you all daily and for your mom and ask God to continue to give you strength in this very difficult time. We love you.
    Amanda, Anthony and the boys

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    1. Thank you Amanda. We love you all more than you know.

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  5. That is very inspiring! You have such a wonderful perspective on this and how God can use it. It gives me new understanding of your situation and how to pray for you. May God continue to bless your family and your steps of faith into all He has planned for you. Love and prayers, Larry and Mandy

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    1. Oh, that's so encouraging. Thank you. We really do need those prayers.

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  6. Prayers for you and your precious mother...I miss seeing her sweet smile and hearing her laugh.Praying that God grants you peace and strength during this difficult journey.

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    1. Thank you, Krista. I miss her smile and laugh too.

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  7. Samantha, you and your family are an inspiration to me on so many levels. I can't imagine how hard this must be.

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    1. Thank you, Norva. I am so glad God put you in our lives.

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  8. Sending prayers for your Mom and your family. I am going through this with my Dad and it is gut wrenching. So happy you guys found a ministry in TX so you can continue to reach others with the love of Christ.

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    1. Kim, I had no idea. I am so sorry.

      God is clever to reunite two hell-bound college friends as sisters in Christ, isn't He? Keep up the good fight.

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  9. Very well stated. I lost my mother almost 4 years ago with alzheimer's as well. I get it with you.

    I do greatly appreciate your attitude and perspective concerning your mom's last time here on earth and how you are handling it. I appreciate John's participation and attitude as well. When we truly become one, we do everything together. I appreciate that in you guys.

    Looking forward to seeing you some time soon, or in heaven, whichever God chooses.

    Love in Him.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. We appreciate you and your family so much. I know the pain of losing your mother has something to do with the beautiful person you are, and I hope that God will use our situation to make us more useful to Him as well.

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  10. What a touching and heart rending tribute to your Mother, Samantha. You and John are to be commended for your dedication to her and to God.

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    1. Thank you so much, Joyce. You and Tip are always so encouraging and gracious to us. We miss you and hope to get together soon.

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  11. Amazing perspective! You never cease to inspire me!

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement. It's good to be appreciated.

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  12. Thank you so much for writing this. You took the time to write and pour out your heart. God is our only Hope and He has been doing mighty things in your life. Blessings abound.
    RETA@ http://evenhaazer.blogspot.com

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    1. And thank you for taking the time to comment. God is working.

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