Alzheimer’s a memoir: Mom & Rainbows, excerpt from Chapter 6 of our book 'When It’s All Said and Done'
I still recall Mom’s coffee moments and how she held her cup between her hands like it was a priceless antique. She’d take a sip and slurp it in delight. Mom’s coffee cup was white with a colorful rainbow across it. The first rainbow appeared in the Bible after the flood along with God’s assurance never to flood the earth again. Mom cleaved to the promises of God. Each appearance of a rainbow in the sky was a remembrance, to my mother, of God’s vow.
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
I have a lot of parasailing pictures but yesterday I saw this one in rainbow colors which made me think about Mom.
I love books! Mom loved books, too. They were by far her most treasured items. If asked, both of us would say our favorite book is and was the Bible. Mom was always discovering things in this “ancient of times” writing. It was Mom who introduced me to a study on the book of Exodus (the second book contained within the great book).
Exodus means ‘exit’ or ‘departure.’ It was written by Moses and it is rich in a type of, or “shadow of” things to come. God uses much in the Old Testament historically, and in patterns which point to the future, and to His deliverance through Jesus Christ.
Exodus also gives a very detailed description of the Tabernacle. The Pentateuch devotes more verses to the tabernacle than any other object. It foretells the future Temple in Jerusalem, but more importantly the book of Hebrews tells us it is also a foreshadowing of a heavenly sanctuary, the one that Jesus has entered on our behalf as High Priest.
“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I show you”
“See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Moses had ascended Mount Sinai to meet with God. Here he was given detailed instructions concerning all matter of building, design, and worship of the Tabernacle.
The book of Hebrews in the New Testament continues and affirms these instructions.
“They serve at the sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle; see to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Mom was enthusiastic about this study of the Tabernacle. She gathered books, diagrams, videos and Bible references for us to use. It was because of her revelation to me, and her follow through in my life, that I became an ardent student of both Exodus and Hebrews. They opened up the eyes of my understanding of who God is. His Holiness, His Law, His Grace, and His Love are all evident in His Word. His documentation and council in the Bible written for all time acknowledges that He is the Alpha and the Omega, knowing the beginning from the end.
I saw today on Facebook a post which said
“I never knew I was a caregiver until I started doing things for Mom that I never did before.”
My Mom was 73 years old, and my Aunt was 71 years old when Alzheimer’s and related complications took their lives. Each of these women were attractive and vivacious, with a keen sense of humor. Both were energetic and enthusiastic about the things that they found pleasurable, and both seemed to have had an aggressive form of this illness which quickly attacked them in the end.
Having just turned 55 years old myself, I have to say that both women by no means, in my mind, looked or acted like “old” people. Yet, when those of us who looked after them began to regard their cognitive decline, it was like witnessing a fast moving train toward death.
Alzheimer’s is generally marked in 7 stages. Mom walked through the stages quickly, while others may linger in them for prolonged years. Mom could have possibly been in early stages of Alzheimer’s undetected by us for a long time, but it was not until we witnessed her loss of language that we took notice of something wrong. Mom was originally diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia. I suspect she had both, or that they overlapped into one big mess of an illness for her.
As a caregiver…(it makes me want to laugh aloud, as the word “caregiver” rests on the surface of a page as though it is a sweet and endearing word, it’s not), my Dad experienced long and painfully difficult days waiting on, and watching over his beloved wife.
As I have been writing this book, Dad has commented often about things in which he had forgotten. Dad never had time to “catch up” through his care giving days. He just kept bravely putting one foot in front of the other. As I look back, I don’t know how he ever had time to do anything but address the moment and do what needed to be done.
Caregiver: a person who has accepted responsibility to look over a vulnerable neighbor or relative.
That’s a big pill to swallow, and my hat is tipped to all who have taken on this daunting task.
May God Bless, and give you strength and an abundance of merciful patience.
Thank you Dad for being a devoted husband, and for loving and caring for Mom with all your heart.
Your daughter Barbie
My husband and I try to take a yearly weekend to travel to New York City. We have many memories of the Big Apple, and I write some about this in our book. I also write about my friendship to a wonderful woman who I have now known for 43 years. My friend, Marikay, had never been to the city until this past week. We traveled with her and her husband to see the sights.
This past week, New York City had record cold weather, the likes of which have not been recorded for 118 years. This was Marikay’s introduction to the grueling walks, festive lights, screeching and hustling sounds and warm smoky sweet smells. She did not get even a whiff of the wonderful street vender’s myriad of food, since the air was so cold that they were hardly seen. If one witnessed them, their carts had the appearance of a lost silver igloo misplaced on a city corner in lonely frigid air.
The sound of people whistling for a taxi or streets in honking traffic were also missing, as well as the Central Park parade of horse drawn carriages with drivers in amusing whimsical costumes. No, New York City was not necessarily asleep, but it was hunkered down and in slow motion as if it were with tourist, not looking up to the skyline of tall buildings, but with faces and bodies tucked in layers of coats, hats, mittens, socks and scarfs. It was cold!
We made our way through the city in a double decker hop-on hop-off bus. The unheated bus sustained us with only a smidgen of protection from the below zero temperatures. We were on a mission to see the sights and to go to the World Trade Center so that Marikay and her husband Dave could pay their respects.
Thank you, people of New York City, for your thoughtfulness and perseverance against many tragic losses, and for your undying spirit of pride.
It was on May 15 2013 that I finished the last page and closed the cover of the book I had been reading. I looked out into the ocean and thought for a bit. Then I spoke aloud to my husband “I think I’ll write a book”. His response “I think you should”.
It had been just 50 days since I had lost Mom. My husband, Dave, had brought us to one of our favorite spots in the Dominican Republic, The Barceló Bavero Beach in Punta Cana. Before we left for this get away, Dad had bought me a book to read. It was a story written by a popular journalist about herself and her Mother, who had Alzheimer’s. While it was very good, making me cry and laugh at different times, it wasn’t our story.The author wrote her story, but she either hadn’t reached the final days or she had decided not to share them. My pain was still exposed and tender having witnessed the life and death of my dear Mom with the same illness.
My family had just walked through the last months, weeks, days, and minutes of our Mom’s life. We were still in shock and grief.
Our story also included our Christian faith. The truth, the mystery, the believer’s conviction and our dependence in God through this insidious illness was missing.
And so I said, “I think I’ll write a book.”
Sweet Georgie Ann was my Mother. She was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, Grammy, kindergarten teacher, Christian and friend. On March 26th 2013 she passed on from this world to heaven. Mom was 73 years old when she died from Alzheimer’s. Mom was an avid reader and book “aficionado”. She adored children’s books most of all.
Our first book When It’s All Said and Done is a memoir of sorts, in our journey through this illness. We will be publishing this book in the next 30 days…God willing. Also I am working on several children’s books with distinctly Christian and Historical content.
Though I don’t proclaim myself a writer or a photographer, both mediums have stirred a passion and drive within me over recent years.
It is my hope that the reader of this first publication will be illuminated by the honest portrayal of our journey from beginning to end, through this terrible disease. Furthermore, I hope the reader is able to glean from these pages, the hope which we all have through trust and faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s safe to say that not everyone is at the same place spiritually, but this book is and remains unapologetically truthful; not only to the nature of my wonderful mother, but to some of the very attributes of who God is, along with His desire for each of us. My hope and prayer is that the reader is sustained by His presence in their lives, as we have been.