Friday, May 30, 2008

Where's Tom????

8:01 p.m.
8:04 p.m.
8:16 p.m.
8:17 p.m.
8:20 p.m.
8:32 p.m.
8:37 p.m.
8:41 p.m.
8:44 p.m.
8:53 p.m.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I am noticing changes in my daughters.

At first they could hardly look at her. I could see the pain in their faces as they see their grandmother deteriorated. They resented having her here but understood the choice. She was an invader disrupting our house and stealing my time.

It was similar to bringing home a new baby but without the "cute."

But they have changed and I am so proud of them. My younger one answers her questions and supports my efforts. She understands the dementia and doesn't seem angry any more. My older one stays firm without being mean; she backs me up. Their adjustment helps me. It reduces my stress.

It is so unfair to make them deal with this. So unfair to introduce this person that can get nasty, annoying and pathetic. So unfair to make them explain to their friends why Grandma is sitting on the couch with ice cream spilled all down her shirt or shuffling out in her underpants and skinny granny legs. So unfair.

But they love me anyway and put up with the injustice.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


It starts as a little shimmer out of the corner of my eye. It's like the glare off a shiny magazine page or the spot in your eye after glancing at the sun. I ignore it for a while, thinking I am wrong. It's not there. I must be mistaken.

But it grows. The shimmering creeps across my vision until the left side is lost in micro flashes and darkness.

I know what's next.

My mother used to care about this. She knew that the shimmer would stop suddenly and then the pain would grip my head and eyes for two days. Later the nausea would signal its end. The first time this happened, she knew exactly what it was.

Tonight she only got angry. "Why are you acting this way? Why are you turning out the lights? Why are you going to bed? What should I do? "

I understand what is happened but I can't believe it either. The light hurts my eyes, the sounds reverberate in my head and bang on my skull, but she is angry?? Wow.

I go through the motions, trying not to open my eyes any more than is necessary. I get her water, her sleeping pills, the dog's water... then off to bed for me. Anything just to close my eyes.

My pain doesn't matter. It is mine alone.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

what keeps me believing

Senior Sermon {exerpt}

Just as God has placed each part of the body where he wanted it, so has he placed our lives to coordinate with each other. The interactions we have with each other, even the minutest, are intentional and meaningful. The loving interactions, and especially the painful interactions.

I have lived with my grandmother for the last 10 months, and each day I watch her deteriorate at the hands of Alzheimer's. She is ripped of her memory and rational thought. I watch as she is no longer someone I can run and cry to, but more of a child that I have a difficult time keeping my patience with. Yet, I wondered, if God is in everyone, where is God in this situation. Where is God in my Grandmother, as her mind slowly fades away? She can forget the year, and where she lives, but what she has never forgotten is the most important thing of life. She knows how much she loves my family. Even if she cannot remember our names, she knows that she loves us. It is that piece of God that has let my mother continue to stress over the responsibility of her life. One late night, as I had fallen asleep on the couch I awoke because my Grandmother had fallen on me. She was groggy, and wandering in her new home, yet she fell because she had reached to give me a kiss on the cheek. She did not understand that it was four in the morning, she did not know where she was, or how she had fell, but God has kept within her a love for our family. Even though the next morning she had no recollection of our encounter, the whole time I led her to bed she told me how much she loved me. She told me how much my Grandfather loved me. God was allowing the most important part of her spirit to thank me.

Thank you God for keeping love, inside of her. God has carefully placed each part of the body exactly where he wants it. He has placed our hands, feet, eyes, ears nose, stomach, exactly so we function together. He has placed love in my Grandmother so to remind our family why we add what seems to many as an extra stress in our lives. Our Spirits are a part of the body of Christ.
We as God's Children depend on each other to function. If one part of our body hurts, every other part is involved. If one part of our body flourishes, ever other part celebrates with them. God has formed his church as his body and his apostles, prophets, teachers, healers, are what complete his body. As quoted from the message "For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own."

As it may seem that it is difficult to find that gift that God has blessed us with, it is when we are least expecting it that we shall find it. Until then, the relationships formed as we work together as one body of Christ are fastening by the immense power of love. The love I feel from my family and friends is what allows me to smile each day. It is the same love I will take with me to guide me for the rest of my life.

God has challenged us to see the beauty when it is less obvious. Despite its difficulty it is crucial to challenge yourself to take a breath of fresh air in the mist of chaos, and see the beauty and love in everything.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Road Trip

I had to drive my daughter back to school. It isn't far so I actually talked Grace into riding with us. I was so proud to see my daughter taking the initiative to walk her grandmother carefully out to the car. She spoke to her so patiently, reassuring every step. That kind of stuff makes my heart smile.

My daughter and I talked the whole time, while my mother clung to the door as if she were on an amusement park ride (no, I'm actually a rather conservative driver). She tried to figure out where she was and for the most part muttered. The good news is that she wasn't angry or paranoid, just tense.

On the ride home she spoke to me more. She was trying to read the signs and guess where we were going to turn next. She kept saying that if I let her out RIGHT THERE, she'd have no idea how to get home.

Then some of the false memories surfaced. As we went down one street in Evanston, she said that this is the street where her grandson met his wife. Actually they met in Canada. So she's a tad off. I just said "Oh, right." Why correct her? What's the harm?

We passed her old high school, and she didn't recognize it. Yet later we passed a much smaller school and wanted to know if that was her old high school.

I can't imagine what it's like to get in a car and have no idea where you are. It must be like those dreams I have where I'm home but it doesn't look like home and then suddenly I'm somewhere else.

Only she's never waking up. She's only falling deeper and deeper asleep.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Do NOT Go there. Just Don't.

When I tell people what I’m going through, I am always surprised to hear that the listener knows JUST what I’m going through. Without provocation they continue to tell me that they have a father, aunt, mother in law, grandmother, whoever with Alzheimer’s, or they have noticed changes in their father, aunt, mother in law, grandmother, whoever who is currently living on their own, or they remember as a kid….. sure.. they know JUST what I’m going through.

I think not.

I am dumb enough to even say… “I don’t think so….”

This is met with resistance and objection. “Oh no, I DO!!!”

Sorry, unless they have bathed her, been the object of her wrath, heard her question asked every 30 seconds for HOURS, held pans as she's tried to talk while throwing up, tried to coral her from walking out to see your teenagers friends without pants, listen to her sudden lectures about how I mean I am, how I ignore her… sorry, they just haven’t.

And telling me they have just belittles what I am going through. It tells me they truly have no idea, that they don’t know anything about sundown syndrome that they don’t know what it’s like to guess what THAT new word means.

They just don’t.

But when they do, if they do, I can listen.

Monday, May 5, 2008


As I drove to work, thankful for my new job, I thought I’d just better check and make sure the caregiver arrived. I left at 7:30 anticipating the 8:00 arrival. Grace was still sleeping. I left a big sign saying that someone would be there at 8:00. As long as she has that sign, she does okay. So I called the house…

Ring ring ring…

Fortunately I don’t have to worry about her wandering out of the house. I’ve seen her try to navigate the back door. She approaches it as if she were trying to cross a pit of vipers while barefoot. Carefully and cautiously, she edges toward the door, sliding her feet slowly while reaching and waving hands like someone slapping around the dark for a light switch. Nope she’s not going anywhere. Gotta be able to work the door to make your escape.

Ring ring ring…

But the stove… could she start the stove? Turn on a burner? Would she suddenly try? She could turn on the gas, not get the starter going and the house could fill with fumes… or what if she DID get the fire going? Would that be worse or better? Did I leave the knobs on the stove? Did I?!?!?

Ring ring ring…

Or maybe she’d fall. That’d be ugly. Once she’s down, that’s it. The dogs would probably lick her until she drowned. Or what if she hit something and was bleeding? Or if she broke a bone? She’d snap like a twig.

Ring ring ring…

No one was going to pick up that phone. So I called the neighbor. No car in the driveway. Nope, she WAS alone.

I KNEW what happened. The agency sent out too many schedules and too many adjustments. No dates on the schedules so no one knows what’s the latest.

No one picked up at the agency (naturally) so I called the caregiver who was home waiting to give birth. SHE CAME…YAY!!!!!

And while I’m frantic, where is Grace?