by Ginnylynn Rodriguez
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With a dazed expression, Mother shuffled over to her chest of drawers and absently fingered the contents inside. It was apparent to us that she didn’t know why she had opened the drawers.
My sister and her husband had recently decorated the master suite of their new house to accommodate mom after we had sold her house of 40 years. We carefully arranged her furniture as closely to her old bedroom as possible. We were informed that Alzheimer’s patients can’t handle change in their environment, so we adhered to their dictates.
She had a huge walk-in closet and vanity in the bathroom area. It was light and airy with her window facing out over the pool. Like a little, lost girl she wandered around the room not knowing what was happening.
We all agreed upon the decision to put labels on her chest of drawers, bathroom cabinets and dresser to inform mom on what items would belong in each one. It was if it was a new discovery for her every time she opened up the contents.
Slowly, over time, she would move her things and hide them because she was afraid someone would steal them. Paranoia is a typical characteristic of this dreaded disease. Then she was convinced that “spooks” hid her treasured belongings.
30 years ago, I remember watching a program on T.V where the family members put labels on the cabinets in the kitchen. At that time, I didn’t understand the meaning of it. Now I feel like an expert in dealing with Alzheimers and fully grasp the knowledge of why that was necessary. Without any short term memory, Alzheimer’s individuals need the added help with the labels to carry out any semblance of order in their lives.
As the sun was setting low in the sky, and the shadows growing longer in the room, mom started to get settled in her new surroundings. Opening up the drawer labeled ‘nightgowns’ she pulled it out slowly and began to undress. The lines in her face were deep and I knew she was getting tired. She pulled back the comforter of the bed and slid under the covers.
As she lay quiet and serene, it was hard to comprehend that earlier in the day her belligerent attitude affected everyone in the household. We knew that our battle was just beginning.
Picking up the label gun, we knew that it was a tool to help in dealing with the upcoming challenges we were inevitably going to face. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we turned to leave her room as we flipped out her light.
Although there have been struggles and difficulties with Mom due to her dementia, I’ve been so thankful and blessed that she is my parent. Wisdom comes with experience, and I know for certain that God has truly been my Source of Comfort in the past two years since she has been diagnosed. I realize the many valuable lessons that my Mother has taught me in my childhood and now that my age is getting close to 50, she has become more precious to me. Each day that I am able to be around her, I think back at how patient she had been with me in the past. Now, I am able to respond to her with the abundance of love that God has provided.
My heart overflows with love for her being thankful of the many wonderful years she has devoted to me. With prayer as my strength and the Lord as my Guide, I know He will see me through the difficult days ahead.
“Goodnight, Mom. I love you!”
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Definitely agree with the comment above. This is such a down to earth, personal story that instead of coming across depressing (as can so easily be the case with the subject matter), it was actually quite uplifting. Praying for your dear Mom right now and for your whole family. With love, Deb
I would send this to AARP, Prevention and everywhere else. What a wonderful story of love and dealing with disease.