My mom had suffered from dementia the last 10 years of her life.
When I called and talked to her on the phone, I remember how upset she was about the diagnosis. The doctor hadn’t suger-coated anything.
I got into our car and I drove 2 hours in our car so I could comfort Mom. My body hurt while driving down, but my mom needed me.
When I arrived, she met me at the front door of her home and burst into tears. I put my arms around her and she cried, her head resting on my shoulder.
After a long hug I released her from our embrace and she began to explain how her own mom had dementia and how she become like a child who could not do anymore for herself. I remembered back to when my grandma was like that. It was not a pleasant memory. Mom explained to me through her tears that this would happen to her.
The first few years of mom having dementia, she would forget her purse, forget where her keys were and mix up information. My sister and I often needed to check with each other about the facts about a story.
We soon knew the time had come to sell Mom’s home, my childhood family home, when mom began telling people that she had met a young man. Mom was 81 at the time. The story continued with mom mentioning to people at church that she was going to be married and she was now pregnant! Funny, but sad, that Mom was slowly disappearing from me. I quizzed mom about these happenings and found she was convinced these happenings were real. We finally figured out that mom was in the past and she was thinking of my dad who had died ten years earlier.
My sister set up an interview with the Community Access center to see what could be done for mom. When we told mom about the appointment she actually agreed to go. It was an answer to prayer, as mom wasn’t always agreeable in her current condition with the disease of dementia.
At the office, the social worker asked mom a number of questions like what her name was, where she was born, and the date of her birthday. Mom became agitated and mentioned how stupid the questions were. But when they asked her where she was born, she responded, “In a house.” The answer they were looking for was Manitoulin Island. To her credit, she was born in a house.
After the meeting with the social worker, it was confirmed. It was time to sell mom’s home and she agreed to move.
So after 40 years in our family home, Mom moved to a retirement home.
After the move, her dementia became worse and they had to a put a bracelet around her to keep track of her. Mom, in one of her clear moments, thanked the staff for the good service. On a bad day, she attacked another resident.
This was so out of character, as Mom was a tiny, gentle, caring lady who had lived a life devoted to Jesus. Mom’s eyes sparked with mischief when she smiled. She had been a ministering sister (minister) and taught Sunday School and lead Pioneer Girls. She had raised 2 girls and was known for an encouraging word. She was an inspiration to many and she loved to sew and bake and cook.
A year later, Mom once moved to another care facility for special care for patients who had dementia. At first at the special care facility Mom was non-responsive to anyone. She just stared into space and was very sullen. It broke our hearts as a family to see mom this way. It still makes me cry to remember this.
My husband and I drove the extra 7 miles above the already 2 hour trip. Physically it was not easy for me to travel as my back was causing me pain and my legs would buckle when I walked. I would cry after visiting Mom.
But during this time, I grew in spiritual walk with Jesus, as my husband and I prayed before we went in to see Mom. Mom was just not responding to us, and boy, did this grieve our hearts.
One time before we went into see her, I prayed that mom would know we loved her and Jesus loved her. After my prayer there was a big smile on moms face and Mom’s eyes brightened up. She couldn’t speak at this point, but she leaned over to me and she gave me a hug and kiss for the first time in months.
I started to cry. Mom was back with the twinkle in her eye. I had been grieving over the loss of Mom, but at this moment, she was still there. I shared the event with my sister and suggested she tell mom she loved her. Mom smiled at my sister as well.
During other visits, I spent time singing to Mom hymns and reading scripture. I made up silly stories and one time, she laughed out loud. She had a sweet tooth and we found out that we could get a smile with ice cream. I tried to help mom, but she protested so I let her feed herself with ice cream dripping down her face. One time there was a plate of sweets, so I climbed a chair to get some.
We would bring our little dog, Kayla. The nurses knew to stay back from Kayla and Mom, as this was their time together.
As a family at we spent Christmas at the care facility. We brought in a cold buffet in a small room made available for families.
Mom continued to live in special care for 5 years. In March 2008 mom fell and broke her hip. Then when she was
recovering, a week before Mother’s Day, she stood up to walk unassisted and she fell and broke her shoulder. The pain became unbearable. My sister and I were called to be by her side. She was still hanging on when I arrived. I sang and prayed with her.
My husband and I stayed overnight at a motel nearby and we traveled back home, as Maurice had to work.
We came down a couple of days later and her condition had not changed.
I stayed on while my husband went back home to work. I had accepted the fact she might not make it.
The next day I took the local bus to see mom. When I arrived the nurse came to greet me. “Your mom is hanging on. She’s seems to be waiting for someone.”
I walked into mom’s room and for the last time I grasped mom’s hand and I said, “It’s okay, Mom. You can go to Heaven I will be okay.”
Mom drew her last breath.
I cried and phoned friends and one friend mentioned that I had been at Heaven’s gate. What a thought. Peace came over me and I rejoiced as my Mom was no longer in pain.
The next few hours became a blurr and I cried. My cousin came to the home to support me and comfort me. I thank God for this cousin who helped me and for my other friends and family.
Back at the motel a peace came over me again. In a brief moment after, Mom appeared to me in a vision. She said, “Thanks for sending me to Heaven. It’s gorgeous.”
Mom is now free of dementia. I miss her, but I have hope I will see her again .
My name is Margaret and I live in Kitchener Ontario. I am married to my husband Maurice. I like to write and walk and bike. I love encouraging people through prayer and hands on by making meals and baking.
I love to dress up in funny hats and sunglasses.