This is my beautiful mother enjoying her grandchildren forty years ago. At the time, she was younger than I am now and a very loving grandmother. The grandkids thought she was the best. She let them stand at the sink and wash dishes. She pretended to let them help her make doughnuts. She played Rummy with them and didn't always let them win. She had three more grandchildren after this picture was taken and loved them all as only grandmothers can. A good love. A "I believe in you" love. A "you can do anything you set your mind on" kind of love and support. That's a grandmother's job. To spoil a little. To love a lot. And to think grandbaby hugs are a gift without price.
But now she has dementia. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. One place I looked said that one out of five people 80 and older have dementia. Then it went on to say that although elderly people suffer from dementia, it is not a normal process of aging. And yet, normal or not, it happens. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do things like getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there. Some of those things have happened to my mother.
Of all the things that do happen to a person with dementia, the worst is the agitation and unhappiness. Not all people who suffer dementia have the uneasy and sometime angry agitation, but many of them do. My husband's mother did not. My mother does. She does so want to "go home." Back to her childhood home. A house that is long gone. And then at other times, she simply wants her husband to show up. He was here just this morning, she'll say, but he didn't tell her where he was going. But a husband is supposed to be with his wife. Or she saw him in town before she came to the house here. None of that has happened. Nor are there children in the house, but sometimes she needs to go home to see about the kids.
All that is sad. But the saddest thing is how she's forgotten her family. At least the family still living. She hasn't forgotten her parents and sisters who have passed, most years and years ago. She knows them in photos and doesn't seem to have a problem jumping from very old photos to newer ones. The ones she doesn't know are her children and grandchildren. Most of the time she knows me. Most of the time. But sometimes she wants to know where "the other Ann" is. Then there was the day I looked at a picture of her and her grandchildren taken three or four years ago and she knew herself but not them. I'd tell her their names and she'd smile as if remembering a grandkid hug. But by the time we got to the last person in the picture, she was asking about the first one again. She does seem to remember the old pictures a little better. Or maybe baby pictures simply take her back to a better time and make her happier.
That day with the memories of her grandchildren buried deep under her dementia and no way to bring them back was a saddest day. For her and for me. I look out into the future and think of perhaps someday losing the precious memory of my own children and their children if my mind fades like mother's has. A saddest thought and one there's no reason to dwell upon. We can't predict who will suffer from dementia and who won't. We can hope for better treatments.
Right now, the only "treatment" that seems to help Mom is prayer. I appreciate all my friends who pray for her. My own prayer is that she will have peaceful days as we take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time and try to make it through each of those worst times back to the not as bad times. The times when she's almost her old self and seems to remember the kids and their families. That day we were looking at their pictures, she kept wishing to see them. Whether she can remember their visits or not, she wants those times. As for me, I want to treasure the memories I have right now since none of us can know what tomorrow might bring.
On a happier note, the e-book version of Words Spoken True is available for the low price of $2.99 on Kindle and Nook and $2.39 for e-readers on Christianbook.com. A great chance for you to give that book a try if you haven't read it. It's not free, but pretty cheap. It is a limited time offer so don't wait too long to check it out if you're interested. Also I'm getting ready to send out a newsletter tomorrow with a new giveaway to celebrate Scent of Lilacs being back in print with a new cover. Fun happenings. If you don't get the newsletter, I'll let you know about the giveaway on Wednesday - if I don't forget it's Wednesday the way I did last week. But I made up for it on Thursday. Or sign up for the newsletter on my website.
Thanks for reading. And remember you have three more chances to throw your name in the hat to perhaps win a copy of Scent of Lilacs. Leave a comment on this post or on Wednesday's post or on Jocie's blog tomorrow night and get another entry.