Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life's Difficulties: A Chance to Grow

I have a desire to write. Yet, feel I have nothing to say. I have been through so much in the last few years of my life, but find it so difficult to express in words. The last three months of my life have been especially eventful.

In February of this year, we had to place my father in a nursing home. He had dementia, and had become incontinent. He had been living with my family for almost three years. As difficult as it was to put him in the nursing home, I really had no other choice. My mother, who has Alzheimer's was still living with us as well. Taking care of two parents with dementia while trying to homeschool my four children was becoming an almost impossible task. After my dad moved to the nursing home, his dementia seemed to kick into high gear, as did my mom's. Dad passed away on April 17th, after 72 days in the nursing home. Even though I know it was not my fault, there are incredible guilt feelings for having put him there. However, I am so thankful that he is now no longer suffering the indignities that came with that dreaded disease. He rests in peace with His Lord and Savior. I miss his smile.

Four days after my father's passing, my mom's dementia took a huge turn for the worse. I could see a change even in her eyes. It was the first time I had not been able to draw her back to reality. It seemed she had checked out. As difficult as it was, the next day, which happened to be my fifteenth wedding anniversary, I had to call 911 and have them come take my mom to the hospital. It was not safe for me to have her in my car, as she had threatened "to take us both out" if I were to try to take her to a nursing home. (My mother would never have done anything to hurt me in her right mind). Dementia takes that from people. April 26th, I had to place my mom in a nursing home. The next day our family hit the road for Oklahoma to hold a memorial service for my father.

Some days I still feel like I am in a fog straining to see ahead of me. Then the sun shines, and I breathe a deep sigh of relief for some freedom from the daily struggle with dementia. It is not completely gone as I still have to deal with the fact that my mom is half an hour away in a nursing home living in an alternate reality, but it is not a 24/7, 365 days a year reality. I am beginning to get back the rhythm of family life that was missing.

So, to those who are caregivers, I have walked that path, and feel some of your pain. Though our journeys are different, let us support one another through prayer and encouragement. To nurses and those who work with long term care facilities my hat is off to you for the job you do every day. I thank God for giving people the desire, knowledge, and compassion to care for those in need. I could never have been a nurse, and after caregiving these last three years have an even greater respect for those who are.

I know those were not eloquent words. All I know is, I needed to get some of that out. I am still a healing work in progress. Life is hard and full of things we would never have chosen. God knows best, and will teach us as we are willing to learn. To my Heavenly Father, I say, "My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak." You already knew that! Thank You for your eternal patience with me, and Your unfailing love that sustains me each day."

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