Tag Archive | sisters

Out of the Mouth of Alzheimer’s

outofthemouthofalzheimers

Recently I had a precious moment with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  It came quite unexpectedly as our phone conversation was in the evening which usually brings sundowners for her which means she can become more easily confused.

But on this evening, the woman who spoke to me was a voice from my past, her voice quiet but firm, yet with a softness for which I had hungered for a long time.  My Aunt spoke with me and I sat ready listening with my heart.

At first, I thought that we would just chat, I would make her giggle and then having connected in the only way she has been able, we would say our goodbye and requisite, ‘I love you,’ at the end of the conversation.  But instead, I received a gift that we shared.

She told me that she was happy that I could understand her as it had been hard on her for a long time.  “Words don’t seem to come to me,” she explained in a resigned voice.  “And I can’t say what I want for I don’t know what I want to say.  It’s been a long time since I was able to be understood.”

I waited patiently, stunned by her admission ~ for the last few years, we haven’t been able to have this type of conversation because she simply hasn’t been able to share how she’s feeling.  Words to even express pain weren’t readily available to her, instead a grimace gave us the inkling that something was wrong.

“It’s like I can see the words, but I can’t reach them.  I get confused easily and then everything vanishes.  My brain just refuses to work like I want it to anymore.  I think that I want to say something and then the thought is gone and I just can’t remember what it was.”

I listened with my heart and felt through the phone her ability at that moment to tell me what was going on with her.  She was strengthened by sharing with me and I am ever grateful that we had that time of lucidity together for it had been a long while.

We had a few giggles as elder sisters can when we talk about our younger siblings.  We’ve always had that bond and it was strengthened for a few minutes during our conversation.  In the end, her sister was getting antsy to talk with me, so she explained that she would give the phone back to ‘the baby’ (aka baby sister) and we giggled.

She thanked me for always talking with her and for being her niece.  She told me that she was glad we had a chance to talk and that she knew we may not be able to talk like this again.  I promised to continue to try to translate for her when the words didn’t come easily again.  I could hear us smiling together as she said, “I love you.  I love you with my whole heart.  Please remember that,” and I repeated the same back to her.

She handed the phone off to her baby sister and the moment was over.  When I hung up the phone, tears continued rolling down my face for I knew, in my heart, I had just been given a precious gift which I would never forget.

There was no pity party invite when she told me what was happening with her and how aware she was at that moment in time that words, thoughts, and understanding escape her.  She didn’t ask why.  She didn’t make excuses.  She only wanted to share with me how she felt and I was there, a ready listener to receive her message.  A true moment ~ The Presents of Presence. ♥

And isn’t that what life is all about?  Being there to listen and connect with a kind, loving heartlight?

Shine On!

xo

Still Here…But Barely

StillHere

Still Here…But Barely…

I’ve been dealing with a few relatives who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia lately and it’s been pretty hard ~ for them and for me.  It’s amazing to me how quickly this disease can rob our loved ones of their basic mental capacity let alone complex thinking.  But what remains, at least for the ones I’m taking care of, is love.

They know I love them and I know they love me.  So far, we are blessed that each recognizes family members even though they don’t quite know all the details.  Most information seems new to them at times and yet at others, they are quite cognizant of what has occurred recently in their lives (which has been another relative who passed away).

Childhood memories fill their conversations along with much giggling of good times shared for which I am eternally grateful.  Stories are repeated, almost to the letter in a conversation, but the giggle at the end remains the same.  It is the giggling that I relish when they retell their stories.  It is the frustration that I continue to keep at bay as much as possible, dredging up as much patience as I possibly can to answer repeated questions in a simple way in hopes that they can keep the information for a bit longer this time.

But I what I loved the most after spending time with them and getting 2 sisters together for a few days was the love and laughter that they shared even though both are affected by those diseases.  Precious moments were spent watching them as they interacted, finishing each other’s stories and slowly winding down memory lane together arm in arm, heart to heart, sister to sister.

It was tough though I will admit.  Tough to watch, knowing that they may not recognize each other the next time they meet.  Wondering how much longer they will know who I am or remember how many blissful hours they spent over the last few days together.  I watched as I wondered how much longer they will be here, both in mind and body.  Sadly, I thought about them and myself and the loss that is coming.  I lamented in my own mind how much life has changed for them ~ the vibrant women I once knew to now.

Simpler times for sure growing up in a small town in the South.  Watching them banter back and forth, giggling like school girls at times, recalling fun memories and sharing stories.  We kept away from the sad as much as possible as I redirected many a conversation which teetered on the verge of today’s truth.  Light, sweet and joyful was the theme of the conversations as much as possible.  When we began gravitating towards sad truths, I redirected as much as I could with honesty, trying to save their minds from what I know in my heart, they understand ~ that a loved one has passed.

It’s heartbreaking to bear witness to how the mind can completely make and break connections.  One minute, you think they are understanding and the next minute, you realize that they haven’t a clue of what we just talked about and they don’t recognize where they are or who they are seeing (other than me thank goodness).  So far, when I say it’s me, they know me.

What I am grateful for is the hugs, the kisses on the cheek, the love that we share as I watch them begin to descend into the abyss of oblivion.  I want to hold tightly to the memories of my last trip, praying that when I return, there will still be enough there for them to recognize each other and me so that we can share more joy, laughter and love.

But I don’t know quite honestly if my wish can be fulfilled.  So I will be grateful for the memories we shared, for the present moments that we have and for the gratitude that I was able to be there for them both and with them both for as long as I could.

It’s not easy to be a caregiver of family whose brains cease to function as they did.  It’s not easy to witness what is scary for them and for me as reality changes so abruptly.  It’s a big responsibility and I don’t think most of us are prepared for it.  Tears flowed freely as did the occasional giggle when their conversations made me laugh.  I am grateful for those things as well, for life is all about the laughter and the tears, don’t you think?  That and staying present, being grateful and just loving what is right now, this minute.

Shine On!

xo