The long goodbye?

Special moments in life are few and far between, so when something special is thrown your way, grab it, hold onto it, breathe it in and wrap yourself around it so when that moment passes you have the memory to sustain you.

Special moments have nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. I was given special moments with my parents and my sister and her family this weekend.

Holidays can be a bittersweet time and filled with sadness for families of a parent with Alzheimer’s. This holiday was starkly different than the home-grown holidays of the past in my family. It is a different time in everyone’s life and though my mom and dad are different now, they are still my parents, they still love me and I still love them.

The  one thing that has not changed is the way they love their children.  I know they love it when I come to visit but I feel like I am the real winner here because the love is unconditional here, the love is not withheld and the love is spoken honestly.

In Ephesians 6:2 it says to “honor you Father and Mother” It doesn’t say honor thy Father and Mother when times are good, when their bodies and minds are not failing them and when it is convenient for you. It says “Honor they Father and Mother”, period.

It is interesting to me that it says honor and not obedience, to honor is  to give them respect and having an attitude of esteem for them. Honor means to revere, prize and value. I give them respect not because I have to but because they are who they are and they love me.

I hear “your Dad just isn’t who he used to be” when I walk into the manor where my parents live. Well, I respectfully disagree with that statement. He is exactly who he used to be. His situation has changed, his health has changed and his temperament has changed because of the disease but he is still the same Dad who I have always loved.

Each time I visit home I find my parents changed. The changes tend to be startling and obvious and it would be easy to think they are not the same parents I once knew so well. However, they are still the same parents, my parents.

If anyone deserves sainthood it is my Mom for what she does for Dad even in the nursing home setting, She never has a moments peace except late at night.

She has found ways to cope with the changes in their lives, she sews. She actually has set herself up a little cottage industry of which I am incredibly proud of her for. She took the situation at hand and found a way to cope with it.

The incredible thing is her physical health is far worse than my Dad’s, yet she fights for her independence and wins!

I cannot think that this is what she dreamed her retirement would be, who would? Hopes and dreams of travel, good health and leisurely retirement are suddenly not what they are living. But what I admire and respect is how she took the situation and made it bearable. There is a lot to learn from this wise woman. If my Dad has a cowboy spirit (and he does) my Mom has a wonderful put one foot in front of the other , fighter spirit that cannot be broken.

She is the little lady in the wheelchair buzzing around the manor spreading joy, a smile and respect  to the other residents here. She doesn’t let them forget they are people worthy of recognition, worthy of a hello and a conversation. That makes me smile and makes me more than a little proud of her.

The other person that deserves much respect is my sister who spends more time caring for our parents than anyone else. She never complains, she always does it with a smile and at this moment she is my hero.

So although I call the holiday bittersweet upon reflection it is a wonderful holiday because I get to celebrate it with people who love me and who I love more than anything in this world.

I thank God that I have this time to spend with my family and I will be here to help them celebrate the holiday’s in a fashion that makes them smile.

They say Alzheimer’s is indeed a long goodbye………………….but isn’t that just life, whether you have a disease or not?

Thank you God for this holiday that I got to spend with my family. I think I shall make sure my Mom and Dad know this time with them is precious to me and for my sister…………………well, I  think we will just go shopping!

 

Dottie

 

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