Hallmark Days can be achingly saccharine.
Mother’s Day is just such an occasion…
I honestly can’t remember the first time she forgot.
I love my mother in law so much.
I don’t mean that in the ooey-gooey emotionally charged way of love, but in the time spent and efforts invested way.
I have held her hand in hospital beds and stayed up all night answering “Where am I? Who are you?” over and over again.
I have made her meals and loaded the walker in the car to go on outings time after time after time.
A few short months ago all her kids came to visit. We had a belated Christmas dinner together as a family.
We rented a wheelchair, bundled her up and took her to the zoo.
A few weeks later my little family took her out to dinner for her 88th birthday. As we were leaving a sweet stranger approached me and said, “You have a lot on your plate. Your family is doing a beautiful job.”
Kind words are so generous.
But the clock of dementia is not easy on an already addled brain. We are two decades into the journey of memory loss, and these last months find us in places I don’t want to be anymore.
She can no longer walk, so the adventures and outings are over.
The increasing holes in her thoughts are filled with fear and sadness. I have never known her to be anything but delightful…but now we have to medicate the screams and the tears.
Several weeks ago we took her to the ER for dehydration and a suspected UTI. Listening to her as she was getting catheterized ripped my heart out. I never want to hear to shriek in pain again.
It was time to acknowledge that Hospice was the biggest grace, and treating illnesses that we would have to do invasive tests to diagnose was no longer the best choice for her.
For years she had no memory but still enjoyed her days. My daughter has never known her as a grandmother who could remember who she was, but they love each other dearly.
Whether it’s because her brain is too far gone or her medications are too strong we don’t know, but sometimes she doesn’t even wake up to visit her. There are days when keeping her eyes open is so. much. work.
When she cries because she’s afraid of dying, we talk about heaven and how beautiful it is. On one particularly dark day, when looking at her made us wonder if she was going to make it through the night, my hubby asked her, “Mom, are you ready to go be with Jesus?”
“If He wants me,” she replied.
The celebration of a life well lived includes the willingness to let go at the end. And so, this Mother’s Day weekend, we are asking God for the strength to end well and the courage to allow her to do the same.
Not every Mother’s Day wish will go on a greeting card.