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The beautiful tiered tray of finger sandwiches and fruit arrived at our table yesterday when I received the message. One of my daughters and I were enjoying a rare and wonderful lunch together in celebration of her birthday. I glanced at my phone and realized the message was from Dad's hospice. My heart sank.
"Judy, this is Hospice Care... I wanted to let you know that your dad..."
I scrambled to open the message. Dad seemed to be fine the day before, but I had not yet made it by to see him this particular morning. As we know, this disease can turn in an instant. My daughter's eyes studied my expression in anxious anticipation. The words tumbled out of my mouth as I read the message.
"...he is having a great morning.
He fed himself all his breakfast using his fork and spoon
and has been more verbal this morning."
"That's wonderful," my daughter exclaimed! Good news- we cling to it and cherish it as a treasured gift. Yet we are constantly preparing ourselves for the worst, wondering when the next round of decline and decisions are coming. This ride we are on is the longest, most frightening roller coaster we could possibly imagine.
My friend and I were exchanging grateful observations of how well "the guys" were doing today. We all look out for one another, our parents, this family of ours. It is unusual for them to all be doing well at the same time. Yet today they all ate and were in good spirits. After over a month of some serious health concerns, today, this moment, was a welcomed gift.
Alzheimer's disease forces us to embrace the tiniest victories.
From the moment our loved ones were diagnosed, we (albeit unwillingly) stepped onto this ride. We are inescapably buckled in, headed to the inevitable destination. It has dropped us to the lowest lows and thrown us into the dark abyss of despair. Yet, somehow, this heartbreaking disease makes things we used to take for granted huge victories of celebration.
Dad fed himself some bites.
Perhaps they remembered a song- or a name.
I went up to have breakfast with Dad earlier this week. One of the men was sitting on the patio with an aide. He has been terribly confused and upset lately. Often relationships are distorted by this disease and problems are perceived where they don't exist. This precious man is missing family and friends.
One day he even asked me to call his mother and see if she might be able to join us for dinner. Of course, this was not possible. I examined his demeanor this particular morning, legs stretched out, elbow on the patio table, coffee in hand. A slight smile crossed his face as he spoke to the aide; they were obviously engaged in enjoyable conversation. The sun bent down and kissed his face.
It was a beautiful moment - a peak in the ride to be delighted in.
Today I encourage you to enjoy the moment - free from the worry of the next turn in the ride. The fact there is an instance absent of heartbreaking tragedy at all is good news. We have no choice but to celebrate every last piece of it.
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #HOPE #CaregivingTips
#Dementia #Caregivers #Loss #AlzFamilies #MemoryCare