Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Day At A Time

 Life never happens exactly like we expect and dying doesn't either. Over the years I have seen such a strong comparison to birth in death. Adeline has been having her share of "Braxton Hicks" all the signs of impending real labor. She is declining, and interpreting what is going on to her family can be a real challenge. She has good days and bad days. There are beautiful moments where she is so lucid it is as if her dementia is gone. That is an amazing blessing.

The signs are all there. She is losing her appetite. She has disengaged from all the activities that she enjoyed. I was going to set her up in her bed and put on Jack Benny and she said , NO! I tell you what that no meant no. I was a bit disappointed because I have yet to finish the Jack Benny DVD and he is hilarious! I just might get a few of those old time comedians. They aren't grossly nasty and they are really funny. One of the things that has endeared me to Adeline is her love of laughter.

This woman has given me so much. You know as a culture we are so busy and so self absorbed that we are really missing out on what other human beings have to share with us. Our old and infirm that get shuffled off to institutions have a lot to share with us if we interact with them calmly and with patience. My experience with Adeline has been a lesson in patience. Sometimes it would take her mind quite a few minutes to process a task, but as she worked at it her brain began to engage again.
We played cards. What we did was take UNO cards and I would lay down about three numbers at a time in the same color and say what they were, for example, "Blue zero, one two and three." Then I would hand her a red zero and ask her to match the number. At first she just matched and didn't speak but as we continued she began to count and remember early childhood rhymes like, "One two buckle my....and she would say "shoe", and laugh.

 I think I stumbled onto something that helps dementia. My doctor told me that this is actually the direction that research for dementia and Alzheimer's is going.  Bummer I thought I made a scientific discovery! The brain is so interesting because the two halves work so so differently. The right brain is more intuitive and it is connected with physical motions. All the songs we sing as little kids when we are playing games stay in our minds. Jump rope songs, or for men military marching to ....well shoot fire whatever it is that they call that marching cadence. Whatever it is they don't forget it. It's right brain learning.

Excuse me while I blow off steam that somehow a big chunk of what I was writing just went into cyberspace and now I have to regroup and try to to get back to where I was to do it again. Did you follow that? OK that is when I want to slam down the lid of a laptop and forget it.
Of course you would never get frustrated like that right? Which is where I was going but in a different way.

Adeline has a very long fuse. She has the ability to trust and be flexible. If she is not hurried, if things are explained to her she just trusts and goes with the program. What a lesson! I have a long way to go to be even close. I get frustrated easily. I am not sure I have the slightest inclination to growing old gracefully. My mother used to tell me that.

I heard a man telling a story of his childhood with his grandfather. They used to ride the bus together. It didn't matter where they went. They picked a place to go walked around the terminal and rode back. They ate toffees and they talked. His grandfather shared with him about life. He told him stories and he taught him important lessons. The boy loved it. He didn't need a Nintendo as much as he needed the time and the human connection.

Sometimes I ask myself what on earth are we doing to ourselves with the culture we participate in. Why do agree to be in a frantic state of stress to achieve WHAT? A collection of belongings that we will later dispose of? A pile of toys for both child and adult that keep us active independently of each other until boredom sets in? At what price?

Next year my Christmas is going to be different. Next year my presents are going to be to the baby Jesus. What would Jesus want? When we look at his life he went about expressing compassion, healing the sick, multiplying loaves and fishes, feeding people comforting people, teaching them.
I think Jesus would like it if I gave a poor family a goat, or some chickens. If I bought coats for freezing children, or helped a village get clean water. There are a lot of agencies now that let you do just that. World Vision, Samaritans Purse, Gospel for Asia.  We can change other peoples lives that are in dire need for so little. I don't want to be so self absorbed with one part of my brain and the other part is saying  gimme gimme.

Not to long ago my daughter and I had a fight. Mothers and daughters do that from time to time.
OCD. I can be a freak, I confess. That scares me because what kind of old lady am I going to be? One of those that bites or spits? GAW! God forbid.

Do you remember in the Christmas Carol when Jacob Marley appears in the chains he forged through life? That is a good analogy for us in regards to our personalities and character. What kind of character are we building? When we are old the camouflage comes off and what we are is exposed. I want to be sweet, flexible and trusting. I want to laugh easy and accept my food without complaining. To be like Adeline. she might have dementia but she has shown me how to be endearing in spite of a difficulty.
What a legacy to leave, what an incredible gift. I am so blessed.

These last days I will keep and treasure in my heart forever. Do you remember where I was last year at this time? Hurt hardly able to do anything. I needed help with everything getting dressed, bathing, you know EVERYTHING. I could mange to wipe my own whohah. I became very fearful after that injury. I stayed home for a long time. This little job with Adeline has been therapy for me. I'm stronger and have more confidence. I don't worry about my arm all the time anymore. I have developed more stamina. By serving her I am being healed. We rescued each other and that is the hand of God directly working to touch his children's lives and bring them good.


Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Touching...and I have also always seen and been privledged to note that fine line between birth and death.

Bluebird49 said...

This is beautiful, Karen. I'm glad I was able to be with Mama when she walked into Jesus's presence. But--I miss her....:(

Kat said...

A very beautiful post. And I agree. There are many similarities between birth and death. When my dad received the last rites I felt like I was watching him being baptized into his new, spiritual life. It was awesome.

Laura~peach~ said...

smiles... i love the old people love the things they have to share :)