“Hi, Cindie!” said Momma with more brightness in her voice than a live-in caregiving daughter hopes for at 1:52 a.m.
“Hi, Momma,” I groggily responded as I peered into her bedroom doorway. “What are you up to?” The soft light from the streetlight outside mom’s bedroom window snuck in a bit through the slats of her blinds, allowing me to see her distinctly hunched form in silhouette as she sat in the dark on the edge of the bed.
Out of the darkness, her voice continued, “Oh, I wondered if that was you out there. I just got back from a little trip.” Gesturing toward the living room Momma added, ” I saw you on the sofa out there but didn’t want to wake you up.”
Of course, I knew she hadn’t been anywhere. Her “trips” are in her dreams and in her mind. Playing along I inquired, “Where did you go tonight, Momma?”
Reaching for her walker, she replied, “Oh, I don’t know. It was confusing and scary. I broke away from the others and now I’m here. But, I’m so confused. Is this my apartment?”
I wasn’t surprised Momma had a crazy dream, since she’d had a particularly hard day struggling with Sundowner’s Syndrome – having made what I had hoped would be her final trip to bed for the night less than an hour ago. Most evenings it takes her three or four trips to bed before she actually stays there for the remainder of the night. There are many informative articles written about Sundowner’s that I find worth reading and a number of tactics to try.
I pulled the chain on the lamp near mom’s bed so she could tell me her story in the soft glow of its light, rather than the scary shadows of the night. After spending a few moments listening and then answering her usual questions about where she lives, if she has enough money, whether her parents are still alive, and such, I scootched her walker away from her reach so she’d be less tempted to get out of bed again. Momma is profoundly hard of hearing, so, in my gentlest loud voice I added, “I’m going to bed Momma. You should too.”
“Yes,” replied my sweet mother as she wrestled her legs back into bed and pulled the covers over her shoulders, “that trip wore me out. Good-night.”
As I put her walker back near her bed, I gave the lamp chain another tug to switch off the light. I told Momma, “I love you” and wearily headed back to my makeshift bed on the couch.
I’d like to say that sleep came easily. It didn’t. When it did, it was abruptly interrupted about an hour later by my own bad dream. At 3:45 am, with heart still pounding from the fright of my vivid nightmare, I pulled up my phone’s Bible reading app and listened to the Gospel of John. Somewhere during the night I must have turned it off at chapter 7, but I only remember hearing the narrator through chapter 5. I sleepily followed the journey of our Lord Jesus as He began his earthly ministry (John 3 is a favorite of mine). One verse that is very meaningful to my friend (also my pastor’s wife) jumped out at me and brought me calm assurance and opportunity to think about God’s grace in my own life.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16
It’s hard to fathom, but even this hard thing in life called Alzheimer’s is not experienced apart from His gracious hand. And He has no shortage of grace.
Grace upon grace.