Life is hard enough at times without problems with our minds. This has been a big lesson to me as I’ve been taking care of my two Aunts (one of whom just passed). Anna’s brain after her fall had irreversible brain damage and after a few days, her body shut down and she passed peacefully as you read here. However, my other Aunt Mable is having a difficult time with her own mind as well.
It is sad and scary to watch a loved one lose their mind. It is heart-wrenching to see a personality change as disease takes over a once loving, intelligent brain. It is frustrating to keep patience as the person continues to distort reality and live in the past. It takes loving patience to talk with gentleness and to skirt the truth of a situation when your own heart is hurting. But we must do what is right for others, even when it is hard.
To tell my Aunt Mable that Anna has passed would be to subject her to such heartbreak and even the chance of a heart attack which is why we continue to tell her that Anna is resting. For truth be told, Anna is resting with Jesus. Aunt Mable looks for her often but is sometimes satisfied with the pat response that she is resting in another place for now and we need to let her rest. In the next moment, she may be asking for Mama (her Mom who is deceased more than 30 years) and thinks that she needs to bring her supper. Her agitation grows by leaps and bounds as she struggles to get out the door to bring her food. When we tell her that Mama has been gone for a long time, she begins to cry and says she didn’t know. Sometimes she will ask if she knew it and we gently nod. Other times, we redirect the conversation by placating her and bringing up a happy memory for her because it is in the mind’s happy place that we’d rather she dwell. But it isn’t easy.
Our minds are powerful tools as you may well know already. They are muscles that need to be stretched as they are malleable and can grow as long as we keep them active. Of course, dementia and alzheimers happens and I don’t know if there is much we can do to prevent those diseases of the brain, but I know that I will continue to work out my brain for as long as I can myself after what I’ve witnessed.
There are special angels on this earth disguised as health workers. You can find them everywhere when you look for them. Those are the ones that as Mama used to say, ‘are getting stars in their crowns’ for the afterlife. They are gentle souls who kindly look after those whose minds are damaged. They have infinite patience in situations whereby the minds of their patients are not making any sense. They continue to roll with the situation no matter what is going on and their focus is on diffusing any agitation in a kind manner. They even have the unfortunate instance when their patient can be violently determined to do something and they simply focus on protecting the one whose mind isn’t working instead of themselves. I’ve witnessed countless acts of kindness recently and I am in awe of those whose calling it is to patiently love others who aren’t in their right minds. It is a sight to behold when you can see a patient who is the only person hearing the music in her head dancing to a tune with a caretaker with a smile on her face ~ the sheer joy of presence in the moment ~ and love that knows no boundaries.
And isn’t that what life is all about? Loving with no boundaries no matter the circumstance? Accepting others in that moment and finding joy in the tune of life? Cradling The Present of Presence and this special moment right here and now? I find a reason to laugh every day and lately a reason to cry as well. But my smile never fully goes away even though it fades now and again for I am here. I am doing the best I can with every moment of everyday and I will continue until I pass myself. Isn’t that our lesson? To do the best we can with what we have right now?