Where Home Is

Sometimes people with dementia speak with profound wisdom. Or maybe God is sending a message through them…

Today, Mama sat in her rocking chair, in the house she’s lived in for over fifty years, and said, “I want to go home.”

“Where is home, Mom?” I ask.

“Home is where they want you,” Mom answers.

I was so struck by this response that it took me a minute or so to reassure Mom that of course we wanted her here. I don’t actually think she was looking for reassurance though. And she likely didn’t really know what she was saying.

But what an insightful definition—home is where they want you. It rings true to my heart. Home is where you feel comfortable and wanted. Or at least where you should feel that way.

It reminds me how important it is to live life in a way that shows people how wanted they are. Because we all want to be wanted. We all need to be wanted.

And what a comfort to remember that we all ARE wanted.

We can know this because Jesus says in John 14:1-3 (NLT) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me, where I am.”

Everyone is wanted. All who put their trust in Jesus have an eternal home. Jesus wants us with Him. Always. The Creator of the universe wants us with Him so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins. We are wanted. We are loved incredibly.

On this earth some people are homeless. But in eternity no one has to be. Home is where they want you. And we are all wanted.

Still Making Memories…Because We’re Both Here

I walk in the door and see Mama in her rocking chair. “I’m here!” she says.

“I’m here, too, Mama.”

I warm up her chicken and rice and broccoli and cut it into smaller pieces and coax her over to the love seat so I can hold the bowl and help her as she eats. Her appetite is good, and she eats all her food.

I get Mama up and into the bedroom, so I can change her. She shouts and swears some and says she hates me. But I don’t believe her.  I get her cleaned up and though she’s usually anxious to go find Dad, today she climbs into bed as I put away the supplies I used and wash up.

“Oh, so you want to take a nap? Should I take one with you?”

“Sure,” she says. I lie down facing her, and hug her and stroke her hair away from her face. But after a minute she starts shouting, “Go home! Go home!”

“You want me to go home?”

“I suppose so,” she answers. I turn over in bed so my back is to her, the way my Dad sleeps because of his sleep apnea mask. And now Mama cuddles up to me, with her head against my upper back, and puts her arm around me and gently taps my back and then my tummy, and it tickles a bit.

I’m guessing maybe she thinks I’m Dad now. But the pillow is soft, and the spot is cozy, and my Mama is tucking me in close to her like she did when I climbed in next to her as a little child. And for a few moments I’m back in my place of safety in a storm, where a mama’s love comforts away bad dreams and shadows in the night. I’m next to my mama, with her arm around me, where nothing can hurt me. Where the world is safe. Who knows when or if I’ll have this chance again?

So I snuggle in. And I hear Dad turn his audio book on in the living room, so loudly I can clearly hear it even though I’m on the other end of the house. And the fan blows a cooling breeze on me. And Mama pats my tummy and stays close.

I soak in the peaceful moments. I smell rain in the air through the open window. Mama says random words here and there and asks little questions that I don’t understand, but try to respond to.

And then, after fifteen minutes or so, Mama decides it’s time to get up. Our cuddle is over. I follow her into the living room and settle her in the love seat with her feet up on an ottoman. “I love you, Mama.”

“I love you, too,” she replies.

I lock the door as I leave. I hear thunder in the distance, as I get into my car. And as I drive home I think, how I’m thankful for these moments with Mama. And I’m grateful that she’s here. And that I am here, too, for every precious memory that we are still making.

Mother’s Day… When Mom Doesn’t Know You

Mother’s Day is such a bittersweet thing when your mama is still with you physically but doesn’t know you. And doesn’t know your name, or even how to pronounce it. And doesn’t remember she’s your mom…

Mama is still here and I want to make her happy for Mother’s Day. I want to make her happy always. I want to make the most of this time we still have together. I look at the cards in the store and know they will mean nothing to her. But somehow I want to give her one anyway. I guess because I still can. I pick out one that sings a happy song when it’s opened. Maybe that will make her smile.

I find her favorite candy—caramel chocolate pecan- and buy a couple bags of bite-sized ones. I drive to her house and it’s a beautiful sunny day. Maybe I could take her for a ride, I think. But I know how stressed out and fearful she gets trying to get into the car and I don’t want to put her through that. And I think of all the days I wasted when she still liked to get in the car, and I wish I’d taken better advantage of them.

I wish I’d done more to show Mama how special she is to me.

But I’ll do what I can now. I sit with her on the love seat. “Hi Mama.”

“Are you my mama?” she says.

“No, you’re my mama. I’m Cheryl.”

“Oh, Churl. Okay.”

I give her the card. She doesn’t know how to take it out of the envelope, so I do. She sets the card down. “Open it, Mama.” But she can’t figure out how to do that, so I help her. The card sings and she looks mildly interested, and then tries to stick it in-between the cushions, so I set it aside.

I give her a piece of candy. She puts it in her mouth. “Do you like it?”

“Yes, I do. It’s good.”

I cuddle with her and give her more pieces of candy from time to time, as Dad listens to the news. She keeps telling me she likes the candy. And then she gets drowsy and takes a tiny nap, her head resting on my shoulder.

When she wakes she pats my arm. Little gentle pats. I kiss her cheek and tell her I love her.

Oh, Mama…the ways I can express love to you and give you smiles are dwindling away. I pray you know  how loved you are. I hope you feel it, even if your mind can’t grasp it.

And I try to imagine the first time we’ll see each other in heaven—when your mind will be healthy and all will be restored. And what will that be like, to have you look at me and know who I am again and know that you’re my mom?

And I think what a precious gift it is to have a mom who knows who you are and who knows she loves you.  I’m thankful I had such a beautiful one for so many years. And I’m grateful to know, that because of Jesus and His sacrificial love, I’ll have her back again someday and for eternity.