I found two cats today. They live on the grounds of the nursing home. I sat on a bench and tried to pet them, but they were too timid. They stayed twenty feet away and cautiously watched me.
My first instinct was to care for them – to hold them and let them know they are loved. But then I realized they are already being cared for.
A small shelter built from wood sits on the cemented floor of a covered picnic grove, making them double protected from the rain. There are also two bowls filled with food and water next to their home. I was relieved knowing they are being taken care of.
I thought of mom inside her room as she lay in bed. These are her last days here on earth. Her body is shutting down. My family and I sit with her as much as possible, letting her know she is not alone. I hold her hand and watch her. She no longer smiles. She looks frail and tired.
It’s heartbreaking to watch. I was not expecting this intensity of emotions. I cry. Then I cry some more. What will I do without her? She has been my constant for over 45 years. How does one go on?
I don’t know the answers. But I do know one thing. I am grateful. Grateful to God for giving me a mother-daughter relationship – one that has formed and shaped me into the person I am today.
The Alzheimer’s disease has been hard on all of us. When she was first diagnosed, I feared for what lay ahead. I thought there would only be hard days ahead. And there were.
But, surprisingly, there were good days. In fact, there were more good than bad. Mom never gave in to the disease. In fact, she only became better. Her smile was contagious and offered comfort to everyone. We learned to take one day at a time, to laugh and love even harder than before.
As she lay in bed slowly slipping away, she reaches for our hands – not only in comfort for herself but for us. She is always taking care of us. Even at the end.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
I think of the cats outside basking in the warm, morning sun. They, too, are being cared for. I don’t need to worry about them. And I don’t need to worry about mom. God has been taking care of her all along. In fact He has been taking care of all of us this whole time.
The Alzheimer’s has not won. Mom’s knowledge for her family and friends is deeply rooted within her. She knows us. She loves us. She has never forgotten that.