I Want To Go Home
Searching the dark corners of my mind
for a ray of light, I need to find
my way out of this confusing stall,
with strange voices, shadows on the wall.
Endlessly I wander and do roam
Down dark, unknown paths, I want to go home.
One of the darkest periods of my life was watching my seventy-five year old mother suffer and die from Alzheimer’s disease, a brain affliction that strips a person of their personality, memory, and, their life. I thought I was prepared to deal with the physical, behavioral, mental, and emotional changes in mom, but I was wrong. It was heartbreaking to watch the woman who had given me life, taught me about love, and led me to Christ change into someone I did not know.
A neurologist had diagnosed mom with Alzheimer’s disease in 1990. The signs had been there for at least ten years, but dad had been in denial saying that she was “just getting older” and it was “natural to forget.” He had finally accepted the fact something was wrong when a police officer called him one day and reported that he had found mom standing beside her car in the middle of heavy traffic crying. She had “forgotten” where she was.
Dad suddenly died in 2000 and mom’s condition worsened, she was more confused and forgetful. I placed home care aides in her house twenty-four hours a day seven days a week to supervise her, prepare meals and provide personal care. She was always telling her caregivers, “I want to go home.”
I was an only child, age fifty, and lived out of state. My husband had died of cancer in 1999, my children were grown, and I currently was not working. I decided to move in with mom and take care of her. I wanted to keep her in her house and not send her to a nursing home. Change of any kind was an enemy, causing the disease to progress.
Below are a few selections from the journal I kept during the nine months I lived with mom.
Monday, April 3, 2000
I moved in with mom today. She smiled and watched me unpack but soon she was asking me who I was. Each time I told her, “I’m Sue, your daughter,” she replied, “Where’s Sue?” She was up most of the night wandering in the house and looking for “Edward”, my dead father. I am so tired.
Wednesday, July 5, 2000
We were up at 4:30 a.m., I helped her bathe and get dressed. She slapped my hands several times telling me to, “stop taking my clothes.” Most of the time she calls me “that girl” or “you.” Mom wandered throughout the house most of the day, with short rest periods in a chair. I finally was able to get her to lie down in her bed and she slept from 2:30 until five a.m. She often says, “I want to go home.” I told her she’s home but it doesn’t help.
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
It’s been six months since I moved in with mom. Her condition has rapidly deteriorated. She sometimes wakes up from sleep yelling and swinging her arms. She also is having difficulty walking, doesn’t eat well, and often is incontinent of her bowels and bladder. I don’t think I can handle her much longer. She is more agitated and hitting me more. My head is sore from where she pulled my hair. She fought me as I tried to shower and dress her, smacking my face hard a few times and accusing me of taking her house and money.
Monday, January 8, 2001
Mom was admitted to the nursing home. She has a feeding tube, is unable to walk, and incontinent of her bowels and bladder. She sat up in a wheel chair in her room looking out the window; she hasn’t spoken plainly in over a month, just mumbles. I know I cannot handle her any longer and this is the best for both of us, but I feel so guilty. May God bless and take care of her. I love you and miss you mom.
Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Mom died today. She developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital last Sunday. The hospital nurse called me, but she died before I could get there. Mom is in heaven with Jesus and dad. She has finally come home. I will be all right with time.
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