Have you ever had a day filled with discombobulation? Sometimes those days seem to come more often and in more emotion-filled quantities. You see, we, like many families, are in the midst of making some very heart-rending medical decisions for our dear Mom. We seem to move from despair and despondency, to convincing ourselves we are doing the best for Her, all the while fighting off ‘the guilts’, as we look to place Her in care. You see, my Mom (perhaps like one of your loved ones) lives with Dementia. It was five and a half years ago that Mom’s diagnosis was made … and it immediately immersed all of us in unfamiliar, and certainly unwanted, emotional territory. Mom, and we, began what we considered ‘a spiralling into the abyss that is Dementia’. But, there’s so much more to Her than Dementia.
Emotional Roller Coaster
The help we receive through Alzheimer Society of Canada (Abbotsford, BC Chapter) has been, and continues to be, extraordinary and compassionate, helping us through the emotional roller coaster that comes from many illnesses, including Dementia. And a roller coaster it has been, since December of 2011. It is now past halfway through 2017, and we have begun the task of ‘care facility tours’, and eye opening, sometimes distressing conversations with ‘our local care region’, as my Mom’s health has deteriorated to the point, that care at home is not in Her best interest.
Indeed, there is sadness in Mom’s story, however, there is greatness, tenderness, epiphanies, laughter, tears, and downheartedness. Funnily enough, this downheartedness is often coupled with unbridled joy and tenderness. And then there is Mom – the ‘extraordinary on an everyday scale’. My Mother has led an extraordinary life. As the unrelenting march of Dementia continues to take Her down the path of the unknown, it has allowed me, in the last five and a half years, to relive my life with Her life, retrogressively. And a heartfelt journey it has, and continues to be. Growing up, being the eldest child of three, I saw my Mom differently than my siblings, and my observation and opinions of Her, often clashed with the recollections of my siblings. None of us are wrong, we simply came from different perspectives and experiences. My relationship with my Mom was what I call a ‘sandpaper connection’. There were so many times we rubbed each other the wrong way … it was gritty, uncomfortable, and sometimes raw. With the grit, the wounds on both sides were slow to heal, if at all. We would spend our pre-dementia time, making the best of our times together – always with that underlying grittiness.
The day of Her dementia diagnosis, was like many others … we were all getting on with our lives. When I learned of Her diagnosis, I sat with it for a minute, and then a most incredible experience occurred for me. There was a click in my heart, with a corresponding click in my brain, and all the old gritty stuff was gone – all was forgiven … a most miraculous occurrence. I don’t know why, and it really doesn’t matter, because the diagnosis has become a gift of getting to know my Mom from a whole different perspective.