My mom fought with dementia for two years. Unless you’ve witnessed the hardship of dementia either yourself or seeing a loved one endure it, you. have. NO idea of how devastating that is. Your imagination won’t begin to travel to the depths of that kind of pain. Today, I am sharing a portion of Chapter one from a book that I wrote a couple of years ago in honor of my mom. If you are taking care of your loved one with dementia, I understand your pain. It’s hard to see someone you love so deeply deal with an illness that’s beyond your control. Anything my mommy asked for I got it. She didn’t ask for much. But, the simple things she enjoyed felt like big things when I would see her beautiful smile. Oh . . . the pain of not being able to make dementia go away from her and not return. I understand that as depressed as you are in that moment, as scared as you are; you can’t really breakdown. You have to hold it together because your loved ones needs you.
I remember one night, my back literally up against the wall, sliding down, crying. There was my mother. My queen. She was staring right at me. Confused. I turned to my husband. “I want my mama. What is happening?” He said, “She’s right here. She’s right here.” He was trying to comfort me. She was sitting on side of our bed, unaware that I was crying. Her baby. Her honey. Her sweetheart. That’s me. I was right there in front of her. “Jane?” She was turning her head searching for me. “Mama, mama, please? I’m right here.” She smiled, but she was still unaware. I hugged her as tight as I could and told her it was going to be okay and that I would never leave her side. WhileI held her, my husband held me.
I would say enjoy this reading, but it’s not an enjoyable memory. I’m sharing to remind you that you are not alone. There are millions that stand with you in your battle with dementia.
“At last, my love has come along, my lonely days are over and life is like a song . . .” I glanced to my left at my cellphone, sitting on the left arm of the couch. It was on silent. I had just sat it down minutes prior, after reading Scriptures to mama. All of the other televisions in the house was either off or on mute, or at a low volume. The neighbors to the left of us, always blasted the same tunes every Friday night. We were never able to hear the exact words to the songs, but we would quite often hear a noticeable rhythm that would travel through their speakers. I had been sitting with mama for a while trying to help her sleep. I hoped the partying neighbors’ music wouldn’t counteract my efforts. I continued singing as I wrapped my right arm tightly around her waist. Wanting to be closer. Wanting her to feel at ease. The living room light was off, while the kitchen light was on. The kitchen was right across from where we sat, so the indirect light was bright enough to see our way through, but dim enough to encourage sleep for her.
Even when she was hallucinating, she would somehow always manage to sing the words to, “At Last”, by Etta James. That’s why I would always sing it. She always liked when I sang, or when my husband prayed. It soothed her. She joined me.
“Oh yeah, yeah at last. The skies above are blue.”
As I type, I can still “see” and “hear” her singing it. So passionately. She would dent her brows. Her smooth alto voice would push every word forth with emotion. Each and every time she would hallucinate would make my heart just as heavy as the first time I had witnessed it. Her eyes. During all episodes of hallucinating, were never really firmly focused on anything. She had on her lavender snap button night gown. Her hands were clasped together, precisely in the middle of her lap, while one foot rested over the other.
I rested my head on her shoulder as we both belted, “My heart was wrapped up in clover, The night I looked at you.”
I loosened the grip of my right hand that held her waist to slide my hand up to rub her arm as we continued to sing. After the song was over, I looked at her.
“Get you some sleep okay, mama? I want you to feel better.”
After hours of comforting her, it appeared as if she was finally getting relaxed enough for me to think the idea of her getting sleep that night was possible. The ice maker released the finished ice into the freezer making a loud sound abruptly, but briefly breaking the silence. I felt every bit of annoyed with the refrigerator as if it knew to be quiet. I stared at the refrigerator as if it would recognize that I was giving it the eye. I turned to fix my gaze on mama, hoping the noise didn’t disturb her much, if at all. She moved her head slowly around the room.
“Jane?!” She called.
She stared in the direction opposite of me, wondering where I was.
“I’m right here, mama. Don’t worry about a thing.” Still rubbing her arm. “I’m gonna be right here”.
Without looking my direction, eyes still unfocused, she said, “Okay.”
I improvised. I started to hum a tune while slowly rocking with her from side to side. She joined me, improvising as well. She smiled again.
“I love you, ma. Get you some sleep so you can feel better.”
I leaned in her direction for a kiss and stared as she soon went to sleep. Usually when she finally fell asleep after being up for days, the next day she would sleep for a long time. Then she would wake up refreshed and as herself again.
This is only a portion of Chapter One, but enough for you to understand that I have been where you are. Even after, the healing is an ongoing process. As I always say: Grief doesn’t go away, you just learn how to deal with it.
I STAND WITH YOU!