As a teenager and young adult, I thought I "would never" or "couldn't ever" be a caregiver for an elderly person. Wasn't for me. Wouldn't wanna do it. Couldn't do it. Nope, not me.
When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, I did things for her that I thought I would never be able to do. But you accept the challenges life sends your way, and it makes you stretch way beyond your comfort zone -- especially when you know it's helping someone, and especially when that someone is your mother. I wish more than anything I'd had more time with my mother.
Today I sat with Grace. It was the first day of my new job as a caregiver two days a week for an elderly person. Grace is the closest thing I have to a mother now. She is my sister's mother-in-law and I have known Grace for 45 years. I've watched Grace age "grace-fully" in spirit but not so much in body. She is sweet; she is kind; she has Alzheimer's. In past years I've visited her home, spent time with her on holidays, eaten her perfectly baked ham, unmatched potato salad and sweet potato pies on Thanksgiving. Now she is no longer able to remember exactly how she made that potato salad, but she can never forget how good it was because we make a point to always remind her that hers was the very best potato salad ever.
Today was a good day. After breakfast, we took our seats outside under the patio umbrella and sat for a while. There was sunshine and a light breeze and we made small talk. She told me all about the plants in the yard that were not there, about this plant and that one, the cats that she knew hung out in the cypress trees that line the backyard, and all the work she had been doing in the backyard in recent days. We laughed and enjoyed the warm sunshine and the cool breeze. After lunch we took our Better Homes & Gardens magazines outside and once more sat on the patio. We flipped through our magazines and talked about the beautiful pictures. And then we looked at them again and again. And again. Our afternoon was cut short by the mounting heat and the annoying knats that danced around our faces...so we went back in and, as the oldtimers used to say, sat a spell once more but this time in the air-conditioned den.
I asked Grace about a couple of pictures in her hallway of her ancestors, and she told me they were her grandparents. It was only when we returned to the den that I noticed two large tears, one sitting on each of her cheeks. I handed her a tissue, and she said I haven't seen my grandmother in a long time. I don't know how many days I have with Grace. I had fewer than I ever imagined I would with my mother when she got sick. But when I left Grace today, she gave me the biggest hug she's ever given me and thanked me for coming to visit. I know not every day will be as good as today because Altzheimers is an ugly beast. But I look forward to spending more days with Grace, however many the Lord gives us together, and trying my best to remind her not only how good her potato salad was, but how honored I am to be in her presence right now.
Hang on, Grace, I'll be back tomorrow...Lord willing.
Posted by CC
I love to write; you love to read...let's share!