— to acknowledge that you see and are present.
If nothing else, the last 10 months have taught us that hugs, a pat or rub on the back, a kiss on the forehead or cheek, or a gentle touch on the hand connect and ground at a cellular level.
Something we learned early on with Mom, was that when left alone, the confusion and “alone-ness” grew and fear set in. Lesson learned: We never leave the room or enter without acknowledging our presence and hers. “Mom, I need to go to the other room. I’ll be right back…” touching a hand, knee or a shoulder, establishing connection and repeating the same when entering the room and saying, “I’m here, Mom.” and if needed, “What can I do for you? Do you need anything?” Giving space for their voice to be heard as well despite any limitations that day/moment holds for them — the frustrations are there, but, the gentle touch lessens the fear and anxiety in that moment.
Every day brings a few challenges… the adamant “no” in response to a question. The reframe a minute later that gives us a different answer and accomplishment. Gentle touches, hugs, an affirmation that we are in this together … and that our love for each other is boundless.
Our days are never dull. The connections are many and Mom’s face brightens with each connection and frankly, so does mine.
I think that after 10 months of being “home” I can finally say that we are “settled.” It’s been amazing to be back in the west and have the mountains in view every morning as the sun rises. There’s beauty in the sunrise and beauty in the sunset. I love the colors and the mountain as it transitions from season to season.
The leaves are changing color – and every time the wind blows, there’s a flurry of fluttering leaves that fall to the ground in every yard.
Alzheimer’s reminds me of the changing seasons. While Mom’s memory and physical being continue to fade, her smile and gentle spirit hasn’t faded. She enjoys conversation, but rarely joins in as the language that she once had command of becomes less available some days.
There are days, however, where she is outspoken, in command and can throw a few zingers out that are right there with the best of them. She laughs, smiles and even requests to watch certain old shows from days gone by with stars she remembers from long ago…
She gives me oodles of opportunities to serve and honor the mother/daughter relationship that continues to grow every day. We are continuing to find ways to communicate using language based on love and honoring the gifts she presented to us in our youth and we can now shower that same love and the treasured gifts on her in her aging.
Mom is settled — she is happy and thriving as best you can be at 84 and having Alzheimer’s. She no longer asks who sleeps in this room (hers) or is this my bed? She has her good days and thankfully, they are more numerous than the bad days. She enjoys our monthly family gathering time and marvels at how our extended family has grown – expanded beyond the grands into great grands.
Enjoy all the “settled” moments you can.