Walking thru illness...
My Mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was on new medication. I had come to take her out to her favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, for dinner and then shopping for a new dress.
She was not ready to go when I arrived. That was most unusual. My Dad, Grandpa Charles (Actually, my Step-Dad, whom my Mother had married after being a widow for over 18 years.) said Mother was not ready to go and had not dressed all day. She was still in her pajamas. I informed her we were going to dinner and dress shopping. Charles was going to have to fend for himself tonight. This was our night out. She shuffled, literally shuffled, bent over looking like “an old lady” back to her bedroom and changed. This was the first time I had seen her unkempt! She always took care of every detail of her appearance. She wanted to be presentable for any unexpected company at any time.
We went to dinner. She threw up. She didn’t want Charles to know. She was having some stomach issues. But she didn’t want to worry anyone. She still wanted to go on and buy her dress! So we did. While trying on clothes, I realized her stomach was bloated. She had been hiding it. Not sure how long, but I had never noticed it before.
We got a dress, went home, showed it to Charles and then I left. That was Friday night. On Monday morning, I had a call from Charles that Mother was having stomach issues and they were headed to the Emergency Room. I met them there. The doctor working with us was so good. He went back a long ways in her records and knew all her history. She was admitted for scans and tests.
By that evening she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (abdominal cancer) and would be placed in hospice care. Grandpa Charles wanted to take care of her at home. Fine. We would work on the details. This was April.
Due to hospice care guidelines, any medication not necessary for pain relief to keep a patient comfortable was removed from the ongoing plan. She no longer was on Alzheimer’s medicine. God was still being faithful. He provided godly women for 24 hour care (all except for the 12 hours of 7AM to 7PM on Sundays when the caregivers went to their church worship services).
Friends of my Mother and friends of mine, as well as friends of friends, felt it was a privilege for them to share in the care of my Mother during these hours. We were blessed. We are still blessed with these great friends years later. Grandpa Charles only had to enjoy the moments he could with Mother.
I was visiting one afternoon. Mother looked at me and asked, “Do I know you?” I answered her, “We are kinda like Mother / Daughter.” “Oh” was her response. In a moment she asked where Emily was. Emily was her mother. “She down the street visiting a friend,” I answered. Adamantly she responded, “She doesn’t know anybody around here.” I answered, “She grew up here on Cash Street. Of course she knows these folks.” (We were not actually on Cash Street. That was a street in North Georgia where my grandparents grew up.) Mother was fine with the answer. This was the Alzheimer’s taking over. She asked where Melvin was. That was her father. "He's in the Garden." Mother responded, "He doesn't have a garden." "Oh, yes, he does," I told her. "You remember those big, juicy tomato sandwiches where the juice runs down your hands and elbows?" She smiled with, "Oh, yes." Again, Alzheimer's was keeping her in the past.
God was still faithful. He was in the room day and night. His grace showed up as He allowed each one of us, my siblings and our families, to have moments of clarity with my Mother before she left us. I was sitting beside Mother. I was holding her hand. She was peaceful. She turned her head and squeezed my hand and said, “I’m so glad you are taking care of me.” “Me, too,” was my answer. Then she smiled. Those were my 45 seconds of the Mother I knew. She was back off in another place. She was healed in August when she left us.
God is still faithful. I know God is listening as you want to talk to Him. He wants to hear how you are feeling. He already knows but He wants you to come to Him.
Come now. Tell Him what is on your mind. Let Him remind you of all He as been doing in your life these past few days and weeks and months.
He walked with me through Alzheimer’s with my Mother. He walked with me through a brain abscess in the father of my three children.
He still walks with me now as I have friends who are nearing their last days here. He is faithful. He will walk with you. Just ask Him.