Evenings are challenging at our house. As the sun goes down, Momma gets a little more anxious and fussy.
Maybe I do too.
I’m pretty sure that when I reach the end of this caregiving journey, I’ll have only a few regrets. One of those regrets happened last night.
Momma was seated at her usual spot at the table waiting for supper to be ready. She kept looking out of the window which flanks our fireplace on the left. This window is clear on the other side of the house. She was without her glasses and squinting, looking particularly concerned and confused, and asking about a man standing out there. I leaned over the table and ascertained that she was just seeing reflections in the window. Every evening as darkness falls, the reflections in the windows cause Momma some concern as she “sees” things – people usually – in those reflections. So, I just told her, that she was seeing our reflections in the window. This response clearly didn’t satisfy her.
As I set the table for supper, Momma continued to watch the goings-on outside of that window, asking about the cars going back and forth. I again leaned over the table and turned my head in the direction of the window in an attempt to get on Momma’s eye level and see whatever it was she was seeing. Again, I told her it was nothing. She persisted, wanting to know what street that was over there where the cars were.
I was growing frustrated with her because there were four houses and two privacy fences between our house and the next street. There was no way she was seeing cars. Every time she asked the question, I would answer as best I could.
But her question persisted and she said, “Why don’t you come look from where I’m sitting? Why won’t you even try to help me?” I could see tears welling up in her eyes.
My life is all about helping her, so I took that a bit too personal and a frustrated tone arose in my voice. Momma continued to fret and fuss about it. I tried to change the subject. This only frustrated her more. Momma’s not one to curse, but she swore at me.
At this point, my husband stepped in and gave her a stern reprimand about swearing at someone who was trying to help her. Momma went to her room and sulked, softly crying and dabbing her tears with big wads of Kleenex. I tried to comfort her, but she wouldn’t have it and shooed me away.
She couldn’t help it, and Wayne and I both knew it.
While I waited for our supper to come out of the oven, I sat down in Momma’s chair at the kitchen table, nearly in tears. I looked up and what do you think I saw? Cars. From Momma’s place at the table, there was a little space right above those two privacy fences where, in the distance, you COULD see cars going back and forth. We’ve lived here 18 years and I never saw that.
Humbled, I went into Momma’s room and sat on her bed. I took her hand in mine, patted it gently and said, “Momma, you were right. That is Richardson Street.” She dabbed her tears, gave me an “I told you so” look and said, “Thank you. That’s helps me.” She didn’t want to join us at supper (she was still feeling a little sore at us) but, as is the merciful case with Alzheimer’s, after a little time had passed, so had the memory of the hurt.
Wayne asked the blessing for our little supper. He also prayed asking God to help us be more patient with Momma and asked God to help Momma understand that we love her and are trying to help her.
Now, as I write and reflect, I’m thanking the Lord for that humbling lesson in life. Oftentimes our response to the needs of others is based upon what we see from our obscured perspective. Rarely do we take the time to look at life through the eyes of the person who is hurting. What a different world this might be if we did.