Sunday, May 29, 2016

Make Memories While You Can

Photo shared by Kelli Swinney

     As a caregiver, I find myself focusing so much on the physical care of Mom that I sometimes don’t take into account what it does to her to be the care receiver.  She is my Mother and has always been the one taking care of everyone else.  It was something she did out of that great heart of love that she has.  Recently, we had a situation where I had to take care of her physical needs and clean up her up.  The Lord taught me early on the importance of what I am doing and I have never felt that doing the custodial duties is something that is beneath me to do.  So when I finished helping Mom that day, she rather tearfully apologized for what happened and thanked me for taking care of her.  Fortunately for me, it was one of those times when I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading and I told her that what I wanted more than anything was to make her better, but since I couldn’t do that then I will do everything I can to make her comfortable.  

     I focus so much on taking care of the physical and emotional needs of my mother that I tend to forget that this time, this Season of life, is as much for me as it is for her.  The Lord gave me a lesson in this the other day.
     A friend of mine, Kelli Swinney, and I were talking about her father who is in the advanced stages of Alzhimers.  Kelli shared with me how hard it is for her to see her father being confined to a wheelchair and look at her with no recognition of who she is.  But she knows who he is, and that helps her as she does what she can for him.

     That is also what prompted Kelli to make a trip with her son, Zeb, to spend time with her father.  Zeb is currently serving in the Army Reserves as well as being a full-time college student and his grandfather is an Army veteran who served in the Army Signal Corp.  Zeb wanted to show his grandfather his own Army uniform and his Signal Corps patch; he wanted the grandfather he grew up with to be as proud of him and his accomplishments as he always has been of him.

     After they returned from the trip, I asked Zeb how the visit went.  He told me it was hard, that he wasn’t expecting his grandfather to be so advanced.  He said he told his grandfather about his boot camp, his training, his Army experience, but his grandfather just smiled at him and made no response.  

     Listening to Zeb talk, I realized that the trip and the time spent at the nursing home wasn’t for Grandfather ... the time was for Zeb.  Even though Grandfather will not remember that day, Zeb will always remember it and he was the one that needed to make this memory for himself.

     Later that day, I realized that with all I do for my Mom, I need, too, to just “visit” with her and be with her and let her share her thoughts and memories and what is on her mind.  I need to do this not just for her, but for myself so that I don’t forget.

     If the time does come when Mom looks at me with no recognition of who I am, I will continue to do for her what I am doing.  It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know; what is important is that I know.  

     Some days feel very long but they are passing much to quickly.  This Season of Life will change, so I pray the Lord will give me great wisdom to make the most of this time so that I don’t look back and say, “I wish I had....”  That would be the greatest regret of all.

     Caregiver, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love, and that you are never alone.  Stay on you knees and keep looking up.