Where Does My Help Come From?

On Saturday I held my newly born granddaughter for the first time and I slipped my hand under her blanket and felt the soft smoothness of her shoulder and back and tiny feet and I soaked in her sweet beauty as she slept in my arms.

And today I cuddled Mama in her bed. She was so weak this morning, we didn’t dare get her up. We propped her up for a sponge bath and a change of clothes and some food. And later I eased her back down to one pillow for a nap.

I combed my fingers through Mama’s hair and patted her back. I said, “I love you, Mama.”

She answered, “I did, too.”

“You loved me, too?”

“Sure!” she answered. And my heart smiled.

I lay close to Mama, with my back to her, like Daddy sleeps. And Mama put her arm around me and flutter tapped my tummy. And I reveled in the cozy warmth.

As I laid there my thoughts drifted to yesterday, when I got a call from Mama’s care giving agency. I was told one of our favorite care givers, “Patti”, is leaving us, because she just thinks she can’t do enough for mom. She says she loves mom and us.

The manager who called said Patti  even cried about resigning  from us. I wonder if it’s too hard for her to see Mama declining. And I wondered if the manager could tell that I was crying over the phone, hearing about the resignation.

Because it’s difficult to find care givers that are excellent. And when you are blessed with one it hurts so much to lose them. Especially when you need them more than ever.

I prayed when I heard the news. “Lord, what are we going to do? How are we going to get enough help?”

And I immediately heard in my heart, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1b-2

And I smiled. And I nodded. Yes, Lord. My help comes from You. You–the Creator of heaven and earth. The Creator of everything! You are certainly able to help with our problems. With anything. I will trust You my Abba Father. And I will know that you will give grace and strength and provision as we need it.

I turned over in bed and faced Mama. And I stroked her face and her arm and marveled how the softness reminded me of our grand-baby’s skin. And I snuggled close to Mama and her peaceful beauty as she slept.

 

 

 

 

Two Brief Shining Moments

Today my daughter came home from feeding Mama breakfast excited to share the news. “Mom,” she said, her face glowing, “Grandma smiled today!”

Neither of us had seen Mom smile for months, maybe longer. We had pretty much decided she didn’t know how any longer. “What?! Grandma smiled?” I asked, teary eyed with awe.

“Yes,” Annie said. “I was telling the hospice aid about Grandma and mentioned the town where Grandma grew up in Louisiana and she smiled! She didn’t show her teeth, but she smiled!”

We were both so thrilled! And I so wished I had seen it, too. We wondered if it had anything to do with the new anti-anxiety medication that Mom had started last night.

A couple hours later I went over to feed Mom lunch. And in the middle of it she looked right at me and smiled! A closed mouth smile–but definitely a smile! I was so thrilled! It was like the first time I saw my first child smile in recognition of me. It so delighted my heart!

And then a second later Mama hollered in complaint again. But I had seen that precious smile.

Mama also seemed more talkative today. She said, “I need something.”

“What do you need, Mama?”

“Something for me,” she replied, but she couldn’t tell me what.

“Are you in there?” Mama asked me.

“Yes, Mama, I’m here.”

At one point Mama seemed irritated and I asked, “Am I annoying you, Mom?”

And she answered, “It’s possible.”

And this whole conversation actually makes more sense than most of ours have lately.

But her walking  and standing were too scary tonight. So we propped her up in bed and fed her there. And I scrambled to mix an Ensure with some ice cream to get more of something in her, before she dozed off.

And then I cuddled up next to her in bed and put my head against her shoulder and quoted some Bible verses and sang some hymns as I held Mama’s velvety soft hand and as I stroked her hair and as I blinked back tears.

I came home exhausted, grateful my husband had picked up supper and ready to crash. This time of hospice is hard stuff. But God is with us. And His angels surround us. And the prayers of His people lift us.

And for TWO brief shining moments, Mama smiled!

 

 

 

 

 

My Anchor in the Storm

The hospice workers are pretty amazing. Such compassionate, gifted people. Today Mama had her hair shampooed and nails filed, by a hospice aid. And then a massage therapist came and somehow gently massaged Mama, as she reclined in her chair, for at least half an hour. And Mama never hollered once!

The hospice nurse visited as well and had some suggestions for us for her care. I’m so thankful for the support.

And yet I come home, after Mama is tucked in bed for a nap with Dad, and I feel exhausted. And I just want to curl up and cry.

It’s hard to see Mama struggling so much to get up. And to know she is bending over and struggling so to walk. It’s heartbreaking to see her stare blankly. I just want to do something to make her all better. I want my Mom back. I want to see her smile again. I want to hear her laugh.

I want her to look at me and know me again.

My eyes are misty. I feel weak. My heart literally aches.

As I fed Mama lunch today she reached out and gently patted my arm and played with my sleeve. And it was a sweet comfort. A loving touch.

And before Dad laid down in bed to nap with Mom, I took his place for a few minutes. And Mama snuggled against me and patted my back.

These are the tender mercies I savor.

I have brothers that do what they can to help. I am blessed with a husband who is so understanding and supportive and helpful. I have a daughter and son that are incredible caregivers to their grandma. And we have other great care givers that faithfully help us and now we also have the resources and support of hospice.

And these are the pillars I count on for help in holding Mama up.

And most importantly we have Jesus, the savior of our souls. And because of His death and resurrection, because He took the punishment for our sins, and because Mama believed in Him, I know she will be better than okay. She will be in paradise when God calls her Home. And we will be together again someday.

And then I will have my mom back. And I will see her smile again. And I will know she knows me. And I will hear her laugh once more.

And this is the certain hope I have, the anchor to my soul, in this turbulent storm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Happy

I tried to talk to Mama as I fed her the Easter dinner I’d brought over. But she’d mostly either holler or speak gibberish.

It reminded me of the time we’d just had with my six-month old granddaughter. She seemed to have whole conversations with my husband as she stood in his lap and very expressively spoke garbled words.

And Mama would do that, too. She’d look at me and speak. Often I could tell she was asking questions, but I couldn’t decipher enough of the words to guess at what she meant.

Except for a few exceptions. “I hate you!” still came out clearly. I answered Mama, “But I love you. Do you love me?”

“No,” she answered.

And yet we had a couple sweet moments. My daughter and husband came over to help me get Mom up from her nap, because her walking is so bad these days. My daughter and I changed her and got her in a fresh dress. Then my husband came in and helped us get her into the wheel chair.

As I was rolling her out of the bedroom Mama said, “Thank you.” Which is pretty much unheard of these days.

I was so pleased and said, “Mom, that’s so nice that you said thank you!”

“Yes, it is,” Mama answered. And I chuckled.

And then later, as I was cleaning up the dishes, after Mama’s meal, she said, “Be happy. Be happy.”

And that made me smile.

Alzheimer’s is such a tough road. There is so much to be burdened and sad and stressed about.

But today I can rejoice that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and because of that all who believe can be forgiven and have a relationship with God and eternity with Him in heaven.

And today I can take joy in the time I had with my children and granddaughter. And I can smile because Mama said thank you.

Today I can be happy, because my mama told me to be. And those sweet words bring tears to my eyes. Happy tears.

I hope you have some today, too.

He is risen!

 

 

The Urgent Call and the Clever Mama

Dad called last night and his voice was urgent. “Get over here quick! Mom is sitting on me!” he said.

My husband and I jumped in the car and made the quick trip around the block to their house. But as we were going I kept wondering how she got out of her reclining chair.

I’d been over to feed Mom supper about an hour or so earlier. And when she was done with her meal I’d used the switch on her power recliner to ease her back into a reclining position with her feet up and tucked her in with a cozy throw. Because her walking is so unsteady these days, we only want Mom walking when a caregiver is right there to assist her.

This chair has been a great blessing in keeping her comfortably in one spot for awhile and also in rising her up to an almost standing position when we need help getting her out of it.The power switch mechanism is attached to the chair with a short cord, but on the floor where I didn’t think she could reach it.

Did I leave the chair in the sitting position, I wondered? But I could so vividly remember reclining her. How did she get out?

Jeff and I let ourselves in and saw Dad straining to keep Mom from falling off his lap. We also noticed Mom’s chair, across the room. It wasn’t in the reclining position or the sitting upright one. It had been moved to the up position, which would have had her close to standing!

Jeff and I each took one side of Mom and her gait belt and eased her up to a standing position and then to her wheel chair.

“What happened, Dad?” I asked.

“I was sitting here, and I saw a shadow go past my light. (He’s almost totally blind.) And then I heard Nina say, ‘Can I sit on your lap?’ And she did!”

I must confess I couldn’t help marvel at her ability to get ahold of that switch somehow, raise herself up, and get out of that chair! And since no one was hurt I couldn’t help laughing.

Dad however was not amused. And now we turn the wall switch off to keep power from the chair when we leave.

Such a clever Mama I have!