Laugh When You Can

I have developed my own personal philosophy of survival for being a caregiver of someone with dementia. Laugh when you can, cry when you have to, and trust God for grace and strength for each day.

Yesterday, Mama gave me a good chuckle. I’ve titled it What to do in That Awkward Moment When Someone Says They Love You and You’re Not Sure if You Love Them.

I had already gotten Mama all ready for bed and tucked her in, and I climbed in next to her for a little goodnight cuddle before I had to leave. I said, “Mom, I love you.”
And she responded with a HUGE, LOUD burp.
“Wow, Mom! That was a big burp!”
“Very big,” she calmly answered.

And so the question was cleverly averted.

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Someday…and Their Love

Dad and I both had quivering chins and tear filled eyes. Becky, the music therapist from hospice, came again today. Dad requested love songs. And so Becky strummed her guitar and sang out one beautiful old melody after another.

She sat closest to Mama, who didn’t respond in any visible way to the music. Mom was settled in her recliner, mostly sleeping the whole hour. But across the room, in his recliner, Dad made requests. And his face lit up. Sometimes he clapped his hands and said, “That was good!” Sometimes he smiled and his eyes shone. And at least once I saw him wipe away a tear.

From where I sat I could see Mama’s pale, peaceful profile and Dad’s changing emotions. We enjoyed Tennessee Waltz and Let Me Call You Sweetheart and I Love You a Bushel and a Peck.  And many more I can’t remember the names of now.

The one that especially touched me though was “Somewhere My Love”. Dad used to play it on his keyboard. The melody is hauntingly beautiful, the words equally so.

Somewhere, my love,
There will be songs to sing
Although the snow
Covers the hope of spring.

Somewhere a hill
Blossoms in green and gold
And there are dreams
All that your heart can hold.

Someday we’ll meet again, my love.
Someday whenever the spring breaks through.

You’ll come to me
Out of the long ago,
Warm as the wind,
Soft as the kiss of snow.

Till then, my sweet,
Think of me now and then.
God, speed my love
‘Til you are mine again.

by Francis Paul Webster and Maurice Jarre. Also known as the Love Theme or Lara’s Theme
from the movie Dr. (Doctor) Zhivago

As I heard Becky sing these lyrics, I looked at Mama. Her eyes were closed. She was so still and unresponsive. I actually looked to make sure she was still breathing.

And then I looked at Daddy, his face so full of life and love and emotions, and my eyes filled with tears as I saw his do the same.

And though there was honestly sorrow in the tears, for what Mom and Dad have lost, there were also tears of hope. Because I picture them meeting again in heaven someday. And then Daddy will have his eyesight back and he will be strong and able again.

And I can just picture him looking for his first glimpse of Mom. And Mom will be vibrant and full of life and health. She will sing with Daddy again. Her face will light up for him like old times. And most importantly she will have her memories back. And she and Daddy can share them together once more.

I see the joy in their faces as they find each other again. I see the long hug and embrace. I can picture Jesus watching them and smiling.

I’m thankful Mom and Dad still have each other now. And I’m so grateful I still have them both. But I am immeasurably more grateful that they both have put their faith in Jesus, and have the sure hope of an eternity with Him to come.

 

 

 

A Mother’s Touch

I tucked Mama into bed for her nap today, after lunch, and climbed in next to her for a little cuddle. And then Mama said, “You’re ‘purdy’.”  And my heart was warmed.

And I chuckled to myself and thought, Oh, if only she’d said that to my face instead of my back. 

“Thank you, Mama. You’re pretty, too,” I said. I wanted to face her, but she usually gets agitated when I do that. So, I kept my back to her.

And she patted my back and rubbed my arm. I sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”– one of the last hymns she still sang herself up to a year or so ago.

The fan on the nightstand blew a gentle breeze over us. And Mama’s soft touches and flutter taps were sweet on my back.

From where I was, my head on Daddy’s pillow, I could see an old photo of Mama framed in gold on the wall above his dresser. Mama was young and healthy and gorgeous.

 

The photo was taken before Mama married Daddy. Before she gave birth to four children and raised them. Before all the meals she cooked for her family. Before all the dresses she sewed for her little girl. Before all the laundry she washed and groceries she shopped for and fevers and scrapes she worried over. Before all the Christmases and birthdays and holidays she made so special for us.

The photo was taken before Mama invested her life into loving us all so well.

I turned over to face Mom. I combed her white hair with my fingers. I held her wrinkled face between my hands. “You are beautiful, Mama. You are so beautiful.You have been a wonderful mom to us all. I wish I’d been a better daughter to you.” And my eyes filled.

I wanted to climb into her arms. I wanted to be her little girl again. I wanted to have her warm hug envelope me and have her stroke away the fears and hurts and hear her say, “It will all be okay, honey.”

But she started hollering, because my closeness was agitating her. So I rolled back over and she calmed down. And she patted my back again, with her arthritic hands. And she pulled on my shirt here and there. And her fingers flutter tapped my arm.

But I felt the gentle touches…such tender wisps of mothering. And I smiled.

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