I gained a new perspective today. I hope I remember it.
I gave Mom her bath and got her dressed as usual. And as usual she hollered and shouted. And she yelled “I hate you!” and “I’m going to kill you!” as loudly as she could.
I’m getting used to it, but it is still hard to hear. I told my Dad about it and he said, “Yeah, she shouts that to me these days too. I don’t know where she even got that language. It’s nothing she would have said in the past. She wouldn’t even have thought it.”
And I agreed. So I did my best to shake off the hurtful words as I helped Mom with her lunch. And then I just sat for a while by Mom, on the love seat. I held her hand and marveled at how soft her skin was. And she was so peaceful and dozed off in a sitting up nap.
And as I sat there, holding her hand, I thought about how Dad tells me she is usually quiet when he sits right next to her. That’s when she’s most calm.
And it made me think of babies—and how sometimes they just want to be held. And when something’s not right in their world they scream and holler and cry. It’s their only way of communicating.
And it made me think of Mom. Because she’s losing understanding and she’s losing language. And she doesn’t know why we are putting her through the trauma of a bath or why we need to change her. And it makes her scared and angry so she cries out as powerfully as she can, with the strongest words she knows and at her loudest volume.
Mom doesn’t mean the words. I’ve always known that. But I need to remember, this is just the best way she knows how to communicate right now. It’s an adult form of a baby’s cries. And just like I wouldn’t take a baby’s cries personally, I shouldn’t take her words that way either. I just need to meet her needs and comfort and soothe and love her.
And I’m thinking the comfort Mom takes in sitting close to someone is similar to the comfort a baby takes in being held. She needs the touch and the closeness of those who love her. It makes me wonder…studies show babies don’t thrive if they’re not cuddled and held enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is true for the elderly too, and especially those with dementia. They need the security of our presence and the warmth of our closeness.
And I’m thankful, that just as I found joy in cuddling my babies, I find joy in sitting by my mama. There is a sweetness in holding her velvety hand and feeling her fingers tap-tap on mine. There is a pleasure in brushing her silvery hair… there is a sunshine in singing her songs, and a comfort to seeing her content.
And so I thank God for inventing families and the whole circle of life. And I’m so grateful that I had a mama who always loved and comforted me. And I pray I will return the blessing well