My mom was the kindest person I have ever known. I cannot remember anytime where she said anything negative about anyone. She went out of her way to make people feel welcome and accepted as they were. This was regardless of the circumstances or the people she was around.
My mom was also the most encouraging person I have ever known. She would regularly tell me, “I love you”. “You’ve done a good job with your life”. “I’m proud of you”.
Who tells you that you’ve done a good job with your life? Who tells you that they are proud of you? Those are such life affirming words that renew life. Almost like putting water on a dying plant in the desert.
As an adult, my mom was quiet, reserved, and easily embarrassed. After Dementia came that changed. She became much more outgoing and her loving, encouraging, and playful self came out more. She could not be embarrassed.
The journey of dementia is an interesting one. My mom suffered from dementia for the last number of years of her life. At first, you are shocked and somewhat overwhelmed by the unusual statements and actions. After a while, you get use to it. It is still my mom “in there”. There may be different pieces of her showing, but it’s still my mom.
After a while I looked forward to seeing where her thought process would take us. “Let’s see where the canoe goes down the river today”, I would think as I walked into the Skilled Care Facility to visit mom.
The last number of years my mom lived in a Skilled Care Nursing Facility. This is similar to being in a hospital bed in a hospital. She could not walk. She was either in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed.
In spite of all this, my mom was tremendously upbeat and encouraging. She was only “grumpy” if she was in great pain. Otherwise, she was upbeat and encouraging. “How is your world?” was often a question she would ask of anyone. She thanked those who cared for her, including those who would be giving her injections or possibly rolling her over, which could be very painful.
My mom would ask the care workers to push her wheelchair down the hall to visit her neighbors so that she could encourage them.
As a single person I think my mother was always wanting me to have “someone special” to be with so that she felt that I would be looked after. Many of our conversations would run the same way. One of my favorite was about six months ago when she said, “Are you married?” No. “Are you dating anyone?” No. “Do you have any prospects?” This was my mom, she wanted to make sure that I was going to be ok.
Her south Georgia accent came back stronger as she traveled further into Dementia. Suddenly the word “chair” became two syllables, “cha-ah”.
She recently told me that she had seen “mom”. I asked “Bessie Claire?” (My grandmother Chambers was an old woman when I was a young child.) She said “Yes”. I asked her “So how is Bessie Claire?” She said, “She’s gotten older. She doesn’t get around like she used to.”
Towards the end of her time here, she spoke more of seeing and speaking with people who had already passed on, such as her mom, and my father. She also talked of seeing and speaking with a woman saying, “That is the most beautiful white dress I’ve ever seen.”
Mom said at the end that it was time for her to go Home. And she did on a beautiful Friday morning.
As I saw my mother’s body lying in the casket, all I could think of was the Angels coming up to the women who were in Jesus’s empty tomb. They asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Mom had already gone Home that previous Friday morning. She had slowly breathed in and breathed out until she breathed out the last time. Then she was “Home.”
In what will seem like the blink of an eye in time, for each of us our time here will be over. Then I believe I will see my mom and dad coming out to greet me. In my mother’s eyes, there was always love, and in addition, there will be clarity. I believe this to be so because Jesus told us, “In my father’s house there are many rooms, and I go to prepare one for you.”
I will see you soon enough mom. Meanwhile, what sweet memories.
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