Thursday, July 19, 2012

A State of Transition...

About 9 months ago,
our family took in my mom, known as Mimi. 
She had been living by herself
in another county with occasional help.
Physically, she could still manage quite well,
even walking and swimming daily.

Her faculties were failing her.
This woman,
who had always been so independent,
so strong, and so very confident
in her chosen role in this world,
was losing the ability to manage and enjoy her life.
She went through the occupation in France,
was a working woman from very young,
and raised a daughter on her own
without any assistance from the government.
She was one tough lady.
But that was all before dementia took over.
I have been taking care of her financial matters for some time,
but we knew that this next step
would be much more consuming.

We knew that the extra responsibility
would be a lot for our family to endure.
Our life with autism has not been an easy one
and there are certainly other family members who are better suited because of circumstances,
to care for a loved one in so much need.
The duty became ours when no one else would step up.
It happens.

Today Mimi is going to be starting a new part of her life
in an assisted-living facility.
It breaks my heart.
I thought I would be the one to take care of her
and help her through the final transition of her life.
It's been such an emotional struggle,
weighing the toll it has taken on our family,
and trying to do right by the one who gave me life.
It's a decision that has been grueling, but necessary.
This afternoon I will be taking her to her new home,
and feeling the pangs of doubt,
like a mom leaving her kid at sleepaway camp.

The good news is that she really likes the place,
and it's close enough that we will be able to visit
often and bring her home for Sunday supper
or special occasions.
The facility has a pool and she is looking forward
to having less noise and more freedom in her life.
I know it's what's best at this time for all of us,
and feel comfort in knowing that she will
be in a safe and stimulating environment.
It's not how we planned it,
but God had something else in mind.

I'm grateful for all of the walks I've shared with my mom
in the past few months.  Those fleeting moments of happiness
with her have been accompanied by the throes of anger, frustration, confusion and extreme sadness. 
Her moods are not hers to control anymore.
And I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
Still, it's important to focus on the aspects of this journey
that have helped me grow spiritually,
and have brought my immediate family closer.
Even in the most difficult of situations,
there is a blessing lying underneath.
Big K and Lil' Guy have been beyond understanding
through it all,
and for that I am SO grateful.
Once again, my boy amazed me with his
abundance of empathy toward his Mimi.
Kids with autism are not supposed to be able to feel empathic.
We hope to take the lessons we've learned
not only to plan for our future,
but to appreciate the here and now
and whatever time we have together.

If you know someone who is a caretaker
for a person with dementia
(or any other debilitating condition),
offer to take them out for coffee or lunch.
Take a walk around the block with them or
find them resources so that they get the support they need.
You can't know how much it will mean to them.

We're all in this together.

For more information on dementia, follow these links:

And if you are so inclined,
please hold a good thought for Mimi.
Much thanks...