In her mind, there is a place she calls home where the weather is good, the people are kind, and loved ones long passed still live.
We still have a house in that place and we should move there now, because this place is nothing like that place.
This place reeks of pain and death and more pain and more death to come.
In reality, the place she remembers was a place she wanted to escape from once as well and sold long ago…but dementia has erased that along with much of the other realities my mother once knew.
I used to try to gently correct her…”We haven’t lived there in over fifty years”…”Grampa” has been gone a long time”…”You only have one cat left”…but that just creates pain and more confusion .
The other reason I have stopped correction is that without having a religious bone in her body, my mom is fully experiencing Advent.
Advent is about holding on to what light you have in the darkness waiting for the day when the Light of the World shines and transforms what is into what will be.
Something in her spirit knows that we were created for something better, something that at times actually broke through the veil and made life worth living.
She has memories of the future that will be, not of that which has passed.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:1–4 ESV)
I don’t have dementia (yet).
I do not have delusions but I do have dreams and in those dreams, the weather is good, the people are kind, and loved ones passed on still live.
I can smell the warm pitch of Douglas firs and feel old feline friends rubbing against my legs.
The river is wide, the water is clean, the fish are plentiful and everyone is well.
The future feels like the present…filled with the promise of joy.
Then, I wake up and the tears come.
We are homesick for place where we have yet to live.
After that, the holy work of the day begins…which is serving her with her delusions and my dreams intact.
Both are proclamations of hope in the dark.
Someday they will both be true…for the first time.
He went to prepare a place for us…and that place is really there for us.
A house not made with hands in a city where the roses never fade.
He’ll be here soon.
Make your own application…
My Dad had dementia for the last 10 years of his life and we found that he had not “lost” his memories. He just wasn’t able to access them as he could before. There were times, though, that we found a “back door” to his memories and enjoyed re-visiting them when that happened. Once I asked him if it bothered him that he couldn’t remember things as well as he used to and he answered (with a smile), “why should it bother me?” I was stunned by his response but inspired by it, too. He was content with living in the moment and (because he was surrounded with loved ones who walked that journey with him), he seemed to have a peace about it. Those of us who have parents with this disease can’t help but wonder if we will have the same fate, so I find myself praying that if it does happen, that I will be as peaceful in that part of my life’s journey as my Dad was. He’s my hero…. here’s a link to a song that I recorded in honor of him called “The Treasure House of Man”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnUUBmBRXug
That was beautiful, my friend…you honored him well.
Thanks, Michael…I encourage you to look for those beautiful moments you will have with your Mom as you walk out this journey alongside her. They may be rare, but are so precious when they happen. It’s not an easy journey, but I’m grateful I was able to be beside him through it.
That’s a beautiful and love-filled reflection, Michael. I think your mom is fortunate to have such a kind, loving son. Thank you for sharing this.
bob1, CK…thank you.
We sadly are not close…sometimes love looks like duty, but it pleases God.
“Love looks b like duty!” AMEN
This week I watched a drag queen cavorting up and down the aisle of an Episcopal church with the congregation encouraging him on. Fright wig, short skirt that showed his panties when he twirled. It must have been a jolt to the true followers of our Lord.
This morning I read 2Peter chapter 2. Scary warning.
God keep you, Michael, as you walk the path that I once walked with my mother.