In This Moment


It has not been the easiest week I have had, so I am working on seeing where the gifts are in it.  It may take some more time and more work to take the emotion out of it before the gifts become clear.

I have had that “coming down with something” feeling all week.  When I had such a dry throat into Wednesday morning, I knew I needed to go see Cindy for some acupuncture to nip it in the bud.  I went to Breakfast Club in the morning, felt as if I hadn’t been there for several weeks.  Then I went to visit Mom – not a good day.  It was her 96th birthday.  As I wrote in an email to my two sisters and my good friend Char:

Mom didn’t know who I was and told me to go away.  I know it’s not personal, even so, it still hurts and it is hard not to take it personally.  I took her an apple pie and brownies for the house; also gave her the maple sugar candy from Ellen.  It didn’t register.  I’m still looking at it personally and emotionally; working on the objectivity part – slow going.  I am not even sure what I am feeling beyond upset.  I probably need time  to let it simmer on the back burner, maybe I can put it in words for myself.

My older sister  sent this :

Happy birthday to Mom, though she may not know it; we do. Just read Lee’s post from Sunday, and even at this distance it’s a “sucker punch to the stomach” to hear about her. I’m so glad Char, who knows, was there with you, Lee. Still, we honor her for all she did in her earlier life, how much she gave to us, and whatever may be happening with her now in the “thin places.” My love to you both, her other daughters.

Later after the  Wednesday email, my younger sister had this to say:

My last verbal contact with Mom was on my birthday a year ago. I called, and she was having a bad day, and yelled at me and hung up the phone. I had only just gotten long distance back (long story, no need to elaborate) and felt glad that I could call her after not being able to for a couple of months. 

It was a strange gift. Mom always said when we had our Sunday phone conversations when she knew she was heading into the thin places, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay.” And I told her, as things got dimmer, “It’s okay for you to go, Mom. Don’t worry about us, we’ll be okay and we’ll see you on the other side.” When she yelled and hung up, I felt she was giving me permission to stop trying so hard, and to let her go on a new level. It was out of my power and control. 
It’s a new moon in Libra today, and a day of new beginnings. As Ellen said (and Daddy, too) we must put this ending/new beginning in God’s hands now. For some reason, this is how Mom needs to make her transition. She’s saying goodbye and releasing her worries about us (she worried all the time) and releasing us, and releasing all definitions of who she was, except that she is more than what she is right now. She’s letting go of all boundaries and restrictions even as the circle of her human body becomes smaller and smaller, more diminished with each day that passes.  It is the only way she can do this now, to sink into the dementia and into eventual rest. 
Lee, it’s the hardest place, to be there and see and feel it, and I know you have such a tender heart. But in God’s hands, it is not personal or a rejection of you. Or of any of us. 
It is a liberation. If she cannot remember, if she must be in that other world where we cannot follow (at this time) she needs that space, as Ruth, not as a our mother, or any role she played in life. She’s getting ready for the next life, entering a “womb.” She is giving us permission to release her, and to be who we are meant to become in the years after she passes. The strange gifts of mortality. 
Just take it slow, be easy on yourself, know you have done your best, and allow the mystery of this strange “permission” to go on with your own life to enter your heart. Good days might happen again. Bad days, too. Like weather, let it be what it is, and know that it’s not in your control, you’re not responsible for it, and you do not have to fix it or live up to some heroic task. It’s a hero’s journey to be there in the process, and I love you for it, and pray for you. 
It’s a long goodbye, but the same kind of goodbye we had to say to Daddy. He went quickly, Mom needed a longer journey (perhaps because, as much as she wanted to go be with Daddy, she had a hard time really letting go of us). Soul work is mystery at this stage, and your great gift is being present, even when there is nothing you can give or do any more. You got her into a safe place for this stage of the journey, and are watching over her as best you can. Ellen and I can only be present in prayer and meditation. 
Mom knows you’re there, that we care. She just needs to let go of life (and us) in her own way. In many ways, it’s permission to acknowledge that even when Mom was here in full mind and strength, there were many things we were unable to share with her, many ways we could not reach her, and many ways that only the soul’s relationship to itself will satisfy. 
My older sister wrote in response:
Just wanted to say thanks for the things you wrote yesterday. One thing especially was very helpful to me: the idea that Mom has always been so attached to us, worried for us, that it may be quite difficult to let go of her children. We none of us can deeply understand that.
Then I had an email from Char, who has been through it with her Mom:
You are right, it’s not personal, and you have to keep reminding yourself of that.  Not always easy to do.  Fortunately, you have 67 years of knowing your mom loves you, and that hasn’t changed–she still does, it’s just that she sometimes doesn’t remember that.  You have to remember it for her, I guess.
 
I remember when my mom was going thru this….with her, the big issue was that she couldn’t talk, and that was so frustrating!!  Not just from the standpoint of not being able to hold a conversation, but also from that of just not hearing her voice At All…..Sometimes I would forget what it sounded like.
 
I’m sure you may have heard the story about the elderly man who went to see his wife, in an Alzheimer’s care facility, every day, and someone asking him why he kept going, since she no longer remembered who he was, and his answer was, “but I remember who She is.”
It really helped me to  see the situation from a different perspective – I realized today when I went to see Mom It’s NOT about me.  It’s still very emotional for me and it was hard that Mom really didn’t know who I was again today.  Because she is having trouble eating, I won’t bring her chocolate or cookies any more.  Not sure what to bring her that will be easy for her to eat.  She was very sleepy this morning, so I may try visiting in the afternoon to see if she is a little more with it.
It is truly a matter of dealing with what is in this moment.
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4 Responses to “In This Moment”

  1. sunsetdragon Says:

    The part about not knowing and telling you to go away rings true in my home a lot too.
    I am happy you are able to see it is not about you.
    Hard to learn.
    Blessings your way.
    My husband has dementia and this day to day walk is long at times.

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      It’s tough to deal with no matter who it is. Thank you for you encouraging comments, I wish you all the best as you and your husband go on the journey. I have to keep reminding myself to enjoy the moment, whatever it is at the time – still a work in progress.

      Blessings and Thank to you.

  2. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    I think Candy has a good point, Liz, that your mom’s telling you to go away might be her way of starting a transition. Of course, we don’t know for sure, but it certainly makes sense to me. My mom didn’t do that, but, especially that last year, she withdrew more and more, it seemed–her face didn’t brighten quite so much when we walked in, for instance–and sometimes she mostly slept.

    As far as what to bring her, food-wise, you might still tuck some chocolate in your purse next time you go, but instead of giving it to her right away, wait and see how she is that day. If she seems receptive, offer it to her. If not, that’s okay.

    Bring her anything else? You know, you don’t have to, really. Maybe once in a while a few flowers or a helium-filled mylar balloon (my mother loved the balloons, and they last a really long time). For instance, if you can find one with a jack-o-lantern face on it, that would be fun to bring in a couple of weeks, and other residents might enjoy it, too.

    I remember, that last year or two, especially, I would want to bring mom a birthday present or a Christmas gift, but it became different–the opening of a gift no longer meant anything to her, not that she was even able to do it, and there really wasn’t anything she needed (or wanted).. One Christmas I brought her a polar fleece throw–light blue with snowflakes. I can’t remember if I had wrapped it or just brought it in a bag, but when I brought it out and spread it over her, her eyes lit up because it was her favorite color! That stayed on her bed until she died, and I have it now.

    So, for this part of your life, you will be mostly having to feel your way. If you can just accept whatever happens, whatever she is like, each time you see her, that would be great. At this point, really, that’s pretty much all you can do.

    Hang in there, kiddo! Continue with your caregiver support group (as I recall you are still in it), sharing with them the things that are happening currently as regards your mom. They might have some other thoughts that will help, too.

    Love, Char

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      I am a work in progress. I know in my head it isn’t about me and that she is working through things – it’s in my heart that receives the wallop. It’s hard to absorb that she doesn’t know who I am, I thought I was coming to terms with it – looks as if I have a lot more work to do.

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