Watching her go

May 15, 2016

As we travel down this uncharted path of dementia I unpack the stories that fill our days, each detail lingering in a frightening aspect to the life we are struggling to comprehend.  With a fitful personality and the unending mood swings I witness her competence vanishing rapidly before me.

Approaching the next phase in this journey and transition to the nursing home has increased her fear precipitously and my heart continues to break for the confusion she faces each day.

I had hoped when this day arrived she would be able to participate in the activities that surrounded her and make new friends along the way. Yet, at this stage her only friend is fear, exaggerating the anxiety in feverish bouts that drain me as I misstep through this decline with her.

Her words quietly dissolve to a mumble and the illness quickly claims her mind with panic as the anger proliferates the scene, poisoning the memories of long ago I fight to separate the person from this illness when these spells of anger arise.

In her calmer moments we sit together rocking on the porch, her smile peaceful as she observes nature with pure delight. Guilt creeps in as I plan for her future, knowing the approaching changes that she is unaware of leaves the sting of betrayal.

Glancing across the porch my eyes fill with tears as I excavate back to when it all fell apart? The idyllic childhood she provided now plummeting in a downward spiral of tragedy and the broken debris left scattered about abandoning any signs of normalcy.

Tragedy is never chosen and death is often thrust upon you, providing little space for goodbye. The lingering betrayal of dementia is one that is witnessed with time slowly progressing the devastation as they gradually slip away, a husk of their former selves.

The gentle person that was once my mother comes and goes. The range of each outburst lengthens as her confusion escalates, her words cruel, as she slices through me in a frightened fit of rage.

Unable to control these emotions her only way out is to flee, even from a moving vehicle. Trembling I attempt to unlock my phone with my only free hand to call for help. Her arm bleeds as she struggles from my grip while I wrangle the car away from all the traffic and into a parking lot.

Her screams alert all who surround us and those passing by come to help although unsure of who they are there to assist? Her rage spews vicious words into the air, cutting me with their force as I beg for peace.

Holding onto her so she cannot hurt herself she scratches and kicks, exhausting us both with her screams until I can no longer hold on as help arrives and I can breathe again.

Staring upwards I pray for help to keep going, a rapid decline in this savage disease springs bouts of pity that wash over me as fresh tears sting my face. Rinsing away the despair I attempt to accept this story that is drowning her life and taking me along.

Finally, I know what I must do to escape this torment, finding someone to watch her I lace up my shoes and head out for a run, the pavement brings a sense of calm and the miles provide a trans like cleanse, clearing the sadness while allowing the light back in as I sort through all the decisions to be made.

Other days a glass of wine or laughter with friends is the elixir required to reset my heart to go back in. Finding space for me allows the brightness back in, my tribe appears, gathering when I need them, offering a solace that soothes my soul.

My spouse braces me with grace and compassion and my children wrap their arms around me as their own strain of tears begin to fall.

These blessings arrive in countless ways with family and friends that lift me up, hold my hand and guide me through this darkness as we prepare for the future.

Through all this sadness I am blessed, though I struggle to find grace. Searching through it all I can see the gratitude I must embrace. The gifts of friendship that bloom within my heart, the love from my family gathering near all shining a beacon of light to lift me up and guide me down this dim lit path.

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  • May 19, 2016 @ 9:43 PM EDT
    By gail nagasako
    My heart cries out for you and for what you are going through and for the prayer that I don't have to follow in her footsteps but some small comfort in knowing that if I do, I won't be alone and neither will those who would have to care for me. I wonder if one can make the decision to end it when one sees that one is not going to be a happy Alzheimer's patient like some are. I hope you will be able to let go of any guilt over choices you have to make....letting go is the hardest thing we do and yet we must think of the bigger picture. I gave my first born up for adoption because of the big picture, wanting her to have a life I couldn't give her and to stay on the track my life was on and finish college. It was the most noble thing I ever did and I am blessed to have found her nearly 30 years ago and she is now in every way a daughter to me. Her adoptive mother is in a home with dementia but she's the happy kind. Still, it's hard for her. I am so sorry you -- anyone -- has to go through what you are going through. Sending cyber hugs. <3 <3 <3
  • May 16, 2016 @ 3:57 PM EDT
    By Kim Behrman
    I am so sorry that you are going through this. I can't even imagine your pain. I met you through scrapbooking groups and I am so glad that you kept them. You can look through them and remember the happy times. You and your family are in my prayers.
  • May 15, 2016 @ 9:51 PM EDT
    By ronda dasta
    Hi Tina! I saw how my ex's grandparents went through Alzheimer's and it's devastating how you slowly diminish reality
  • May 15, 2016 @ 8:03 PM EDT
    By debbie laruwe
    My heart is so sad for you this day, You will make it through this journey. You my friend , have the strength and the compassion of 20 people. Be good to yourself!!! love you.
  • May 15, 2016 @ 1:38 PM EDT
    By Aunt Carol
    You're an angel on earth. May God give you more strength.
  • May 15, 2016 @ 12:31 PM EDT
    By Beverly McComb-Davies
    My heart, my thoughts and my prayers are with you in this uncharted journey. You've done everything you possibly can do for your Mom; you must take good care of yourself to keep on keeping on.
  • May 15, 2016 @ 8:58 AM EDT
    By Kathy Ventura
    My heart aches for you, and all you have been through, I heard how difficult this illness is, you are a strong person.
  • May 15, 2016 @ 8:54 AM EDT
    By Kathy Henderson
    As I read this my eyes filled with tears. I saw my mother n laws mom go through all these horrible transitions. I know this will be an excruciating journey for you and your family. Please pray for comfort and God will help you.

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