The Lie

Grandma's birdhouse

Over the past week, my Mom has been glued to the bird house outside her roommate’s window. She can sit in her chair, look to her right and watch all the excitement that goes on all day long. Today, there has been a lot of action.

Today, we spent an hour watching the crazy behavior of the bunnies, the birds and a very smart squirrel trying to chase one another and get at the bird feeder. This literally over took my Mom and her enjoyment was contagious. She then asked me the same question she has been asking me for one solid week. “You know I made that bird house”. Every time I’m here, as of late, she tells me about the bird house and how proud she is of it.

At first, I went along with her statement. She was matter of fact, bold and very direct. You are taught as a nurse, to go alone with a person with memory loss, unless is it an issue that their statement will hurt them. You try and reduce their anxiety and I have heard so many stories over the years. An eighty year old woman stating her mother was here with her or lately a man told me that we had just been on a cruise together. You know that their comment is untrue but if I said to the woman, “Your Mom died fifty years ago” or “You and I have never been on a cruise together”, you will add to their confusion, make them feel unworthy and add to their anxiety. Sometimes it depends on the situation, but I normally just go with the flow and listen to them.

At first, I asked the nursing staff if maybe she really did make the bird house. I didn’t want to assume that she hadn’t. She did not. Mom even told Steve on Father’s Day, that she had made this wonderful bird house. When she asked me again and I said that I had heard about it, she said, “You don’t think I made it”. It was the look she gave me. Sad, quiet and disappointed. My tone with her must have alerted her that I didn’t believe her. She looked away and was very quiet. I told her, “Mom, if you tell me that you made it, I believe you.” The lie comes out of my mouth. I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t come across better towards her and I know she must have felt that.

A few months ago, she asked me how much was her rent. In the last few years, she has not asked me one question about bills, her checkbook, rent, hair, medication expense or even how I pay for her things. She has forgotten that piece of her life. Again, I was not as truthful and I should have been. I know that if she knew what the cost was, it would upset her greatly. I kept it in the ballpark, but a few thousands less. Does she really need to know the cost? Yes, if I was being honest. Would it add to her anxiety and worry? Yes, for sure. Would I lie again so she would not worry? Sorry to say, yes.

I’m looking at the bird house and thinking to myself, I have spent the last hour watching this with Mom. My own bills to pay, girls activities to think about, work always on my mind and things I have put off. This time with her is important. Yes…she did make that bird house, just so we are clear. 😉

The Devotional

Today, I got to spend some time with Mom. We have hired a wonderful college student, Rachel, for the summer to watch the girls and I now get to spend Wednesday morning with mom without the girls. Its a nice break for me and it is much quieter. I don’t want it to be a chore that the girls come, I want them to want to see Grandma on their own terms. I am happy that they still want to see her and they understand her loss.

Today, I caught her sleeping in the chair. She has been sleeping more often and I know, for 87, she does pretty darn well physically. I brought her some magazines and her Matilda was huddled next to her. That crazy dog.

I last saw her on Sunday and I we talked about the next book I would read to her. There are many things my Mom as forgotten and the loss of things she loved to do, are great. The thing that makes my heart hurt is her loss of reading. She was such an avid reader and as I have stated before, instilled the love of it onto me. I could not begin to count the number of hours/days we have read together. I would read a great book and send it to Starbuck and she would read it in days. She has always had a little more time than I have to read. We would discuss what we loved or hated about it and she would ask for more. Many of my special books in my library are from her. A sweet reminder of the love we have shared.

Today, I told her about the book I have been reading, Orphan Train. She was interested in the topic and I told her we could read it after I am done. We picked up her Devotional book and I was about to read her the June 12th devotion when I asked her if she would read it to me. She had last read on Sunday and it was a joy to hear her voice again. Time escaped back to the days of hearing her read scripture for church, reading the Bible, reading stories to the girls and reading recipes she loved. She had a strong, yet sweet  rhythm to her reading. I miss that voice. I told friends that for months I have been reading to her, but she fooled me just a little. There were times when she would fall asleep while I was reading to her and I would watch her nap and quietly leave. Reading to her was just as much enjoyment for me as it was for her. I wish that what ever causes this damn disease would leave that part of her brain alone. It brings her peace and love.

This is what Mom read to me today. For my friends that aren’t of faith, I’m sorry, but hang in there. It is a wonderful passage.

Let me help you get through this day. There are many possible paths to travel between your getting up in the morning and your lying down at night. Stay alert to the many choice-points along the way, being continually aware of my presence.  You will get through this day one way or the other. One way is to moan and groan, stumbling alone with shuffling feet. This will get you to the end of the day eventually, but there is a better way. You can choose to walk with me along the path of peace, leaning on me as much as you need. There will be difficulties along the way, but you can face them confidently in my strength.

This meant a lot and I think she understood how special this devotion was. Hearing her voice was again was magical.