My mom is the bravest woman I know. For years she raised a family of nine children (seven of us still at home) all by herself after my father died. Now she is taking the scariest journey of her life, and one she must take on her own; she is dying of Alzheimer's disease.
At this moment her biggest fear is that she will have to move out of her house. She still remembers where she is in her house. She still remembers my sister who lives with her and has done for the past 55 years because of a mental deficiency on my sister's part. Another sister moved back in with mom a year ago, and mom sometimes doesn't remember who she is, but she has finally come to realize that with the two of them there, she can stay in her home.
Another sister and I are frequent visitors, and we monitor her health care and take care of her finances. Each week we worry that she will need more care, and each week we are ready to do whatever we feel is necessary to keep mom safe. For now, mom wants to stay at home, and for now we are doing everything we can to keep that a possibility, because we want what mom can tell us she wants.
When mom can no longer tell us what she wants, then we may have to make harder choices. I have been in nursing homes in the ministry capacity of my work at the parish. The last place I want my mother while she still has any idea of what is going on is in a place like that. There is no way that she will get better care from a nursing home than she can get from my sisters and the visiting nurses that her Dr. Can schedule to check up on her.
I know that this is all part of God's plan, my two sisters who live there have both worked with patients in nursing care facilities, one in a hospital setting and the other in a nursing home. My sister who visits cares for mom's medical needs through a caring Dr. Who happens to be her family Dr. And whom we trust completely. And she and I have strong husbands who help us to stay strong in our choices, and will help us to make the even harder choices when that time comes.
I know that my mom is going to die. I also know that my mom does not fear death. All we can do for her in this last part of her journey with us is keep her as comfortable and safe as possible. Right now that means keeping her in her home while she still remembers where she is and who the people are that are taking care of her.
Mom's faith is an amazing thing. It is one of the greatest gifts that she passed along to me.
I spent a wonderful day today with my mom, in her home surrounded by her memories. I wonder how many of them we will have left?