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November 28, 2013

All month on Facebook I have watched friends give a daily account of what they are thankful for.  I have not played along on the grateful journal, however, I have been paying attention and giving it some serious thought. Naturally I am grateful for my wonderful husband, children and grandchildren and all of our good health. But on this Thanksgiving Day, it all comes into very clear perspective for me. I am most grateful for this past year.  Another year with my Mother. While the year started off dark and scary it has turned into a joyful and very memorable year.

A year ago, I was totally drained of all energy, I could barely function.  I  lost my voice last October and did not talk again until this April. I had no idea of the cause,  no amount of medicine, rest or healthy tips and tricks did anything to alleviate the drained, hopelessness that I was living with.  After several different doctors and numerous tests, the diagnosis came down to stress. Imagine That!

Only in the very recent months have I really begun to feel healthy and normal once again.  I have just started to regain enough energy to begin to tackle long neglected chores.

Six months ago, while attending the funeral of a friend’s mother who had also suffered from dementia,  I was totally distraught and wondering why my Mother was still left to suffer from this horrible disease.  My friend took my hands and said, “God has given you a mission to do.  He has chosen you to talk about what we are going through.  There is more for you to learn, in order share with others.”  My reply was that I didn’t want to learn anymore!

Oh, but if I had gotten my way back then….. I would have missed out on so much joy and many delightful memories! Not to mention, additional insight to share with others.

Earlier this year mom would always be found lying in a fetal position, non-responsive, not connecting to the real world in any way. Now, most of our days are spent with her up and alert, she laughs and tries to tell stories. We sing songs and pray together.  She likes when I read simple little stories to her.  I have a new growing collection of Little Golden Books.

For anyone beginning to go through this caregiver path, you might want to consider going shopping in the infant/toddler toy section, also, do not overlook the pet department.  Both departments offer colorful, textured, safe to chew toys without lose parts.

Our children’s toy collection started with a washable, cuddly baby doll for mom to cuddle and hold onto.  A richly textured pet ball offers finger stimulation, as well as safe to put in her mouth. The string of flexible textured teething beads, offer the stimulation of the different textures and colors.  She twists and turns the beads.  Out of the blue the other day, she counted to seven! Unsolicited and un-coached!

When I told her it was almost Thanksgiving and time to cook a turkey.  I thanked her for teaching me how to cook such a special meal.  She said, “You’re welcome, don’t forget to use a lot of nuts.  You need a lot of nuts.”

When she sneezed, she put her hand up to cover her nose, I said, “Bless you.”  She answered, “Thank You.” There may be a lot that she does not remember, but there is still so much that she DOES!  She has taught me to look for the joy and to expect the unexpected.

God has given me a mission that goes beyond being the caregiver for my Mother. As my friend told me a few months ago, He has designated me to tell our story and to let others know that even in our darkest days, there can be joy if we can be open minded and  know where to look!

I am thankful for the many wonderful people I have met during this year that I would not have, if not for this Alzheimer’s Roller Coaster Ride.  I have received cards from people thanking me for sharing my story and reminding them that they are not alone.  People have called to talk about what their loved one is doing and saying and how I have helped them to prepare for what is yet to come. Numerous people who have bought my book, have contacted me to send additional copies to someone else that they know going through this.  A year ago, I would never have thought that there could be anything good to come out of the deep dark days of dementia, but God has shown me the way, the purpose and the joy!

I am grateful for the lessons learned and the continued opportunities to learn, grow and share.

  1. I seriously never thought of shopping in the toy or pet sections, but it really does make sense! Thanks!!!

  2. I know! It is amazing when things like this click for us! I have a renewed interest in toy shopping this year! Simple sensory and mind stimulating toys keep the mind and fingers active. Mom is constantly playing with the wrinkles and folds in our clothes, I think because she was a seamstress the feel for the fabric is still with her. I plan to make her a special fabric pillow to cuddle, with a lace trim for her manipulate. The lace is from her days of making wedding dresses.

  3. Oh, honey, what a light you are for All, not only those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. I read you post right now, and I’m in such grief over a number of distressing situations, and I realize there is hope. Surely it won’t always be this hard, I won’t always feel so overwhelmed. Tonight I’m terribly overwhelmed, and I did not want to have to choose what my mother was going to eat and make it for her on a plate. I just didn’t want to have to eat myself, much less see that she ate. But she can’s see well, and I knew she would not be able to manage the getting leftovers and microwaving, etc. She can serve when every thing is placed a certain way, but not anything complicated such as warming her own food. I did it, ungracefully, praying for grace. Now I read your sharing and tell myself I can keep going. God bless you. I’m thankful for you!

    • My dear friend, you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. I still have many days like that myself, but when the dark clouds move enough to let the sun shine through and I can see clearly, it is a different day indeed! I am learning to look through those clouds, and you will too, when the time is right. Do not deny yourself the time that you need to heal! You my dear, are dealing with so much more than I can even fathom! You help me to keep my perspective on life! Friends hold each other up through the rough spots, I am so grateful to have you as my friend! Love you and God will see you through this!!

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