sandwich

I may not remember the date although I could take a close enough guess but I do recall how my heart felt when my children knew my name. “Mom” had such a wonderful sound to it when my daughter first said the word. Two years later my heart filled again when my son also made the connection. I knew they understood that I was someone important to them and in order to get my attention, all they had to say was “Mom”. (In our home it was much easier to say a word than throw a tantrum or cry – just felt better).

I probably won’t remember this date on the calendar in a few weeks either. I will be able to visit inside my heart as I held my tears at bay when my mom said my name. Today.

The nurse saw me after I signed in at the reception desk. She said my mom was having a ‘good day’ today. I approached the craft table and the aide said, “Anne, your daughter is here!” (my mom with dementia is still quite competent with an ‘appropriate’ response, even if she has no idea what you’re talking about). We started walking to the garden. I turned to her and asked ‘do you know my name?’. She looked at my face, and with more clarity than I have recently seen, said “Wendy”.

20140730-114037.jpg

I get emotional when she doesn’t have any idea who I am or what her story is. The lump in my throat successfully squeezes tears from my eyes. I also get emotional when she does have a sliver of clarity. Those precious moments when I can help her remember parts of her story are rare. I can see the effort in her brain to recall and describe events in her past. Some details are missing, but they aren’t important. I know her story and can fill in the blanks.

So, the sandwich. I seem to fit into the statistic called “The Sandwich Generation”, where the middle generation has a parent requiring care and children who are not quite independent yet. In the middle. Sometimes I feel like the baloney.

dignity

20140723-161458.jpg
Dear Caregiver,

I saw you.
I heard you.

I don’t know if you truly heard my quiet voice, strained with a lump in my throat say ‘thank you’.

I came to pick up my mother for a visit to the doctor. You may not recall that day specifically because you were doing your job. Your days are probably filled with moments like this, without anyone seeing the work you do. That moment will always live inside my heart.

I saw you pick out a fresh outfit to put on, one that all three pieces coordinate. You couldn’t have known that I took my mom shopping a couple summers ago and we picked out that outfit together. I saw the care and concern in your actions toward my mom as a caregiver and as a caring human. She may not remember anything about today, may continue to jumble her thoughts and words but you understand that she is my mother.

I heard you when she gave you a difficult time about changing her clothes that day. You gently told her she’s going out today and reminded her that she would like to look nice. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for remembering that this once vibrant, loving, beautiful woman is still beautiful. You helped preserve her dignity for this moment. I doubt she will recall it. I will never forget it.

You know about the dementia, the challenges in getting her to the hospital just two nights ago. You know the medication given to her to get thru that procedure made her even more forgetful, challenging, perhaps. And you continued being kind, professional and caring.

I saw you.
I heard you.
I thank you.