Before I Forget: Sharing my love for God, family, gardens and my sweet Momma
Downsizing with Dementia
I’ve been in the process of a little ‘downsizing’ at my house. Fueled by the experience of having moved my mother out of a home she lived in for 52 years, I’ve been steadily going through closets, drawers, cupboards, the garage and basement…anywhere the seldom used ‘stuff’ I’ve accumulated through the years might be lurking.
It made me think about this little Facebook note I wrote –unbelievably, almost two years ago. We’re now a few chapters further into Momma’s story of her life with Alzheimer’s, with her now residing with us in our home so we can care for her full-time.
I am re-sharing this as a reminder to myself of how God has been present at every juncture of this journey. It is also my heartfelt desire to bring encouragement and hope to someone else on a similar journey in life.
Facebook Journal Entry dated January 7, 2017
Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders bring a whole new level of difficulty to the table when it comes to downsizing and preparing a parent for a big move. I found this to be the sad truth when I made the decision to move my mom from the Milwaukee home she and dad built in 1961 to her senior apartment about 80 miles west in Fitchburg. There were times I would spend the day sorting, wrapping, packing, and labeling boxes, only to be awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of mom tearing off packing tape and sifting through the contents of the moving boxes. Further setbacks to the packing process would inevitably occur when I went home to Fitchburg after a weekend in Milwaukee helping her pack. I’d arrive back at Mom’s a few days later only to find that which was packed was now unpacked and back in its original space…or hidden so that I could not pack it again.
Thankfully, as many of you know, we’ve moved on a few chapters in the story, sold the house, and made the move to Fitchburg. Mom now lives about 5 blocks from our home and is happy and generally content living close to family. Now that we have her all settled in, I have a bit more time to reflect on some of the things I experienced in the process and do a little writing about some of the missing chapters.
Thankfully, when Momma was in good spirits, she would encourage friends and family to take what they would like too. Other times, she would lament the loss of her precious belongings, or wonder where this or that went. She’ll probably never use it again, but her West Virginia glass (some of which is pictured above) made the move with her. Seeing her special things still on display brings a measure of soothing familiarity to her fragile mind.
As I have confessed before, the Enemy would often try to convince me that I was all alone in this monumental task. But the Spirit would remind me I was never alone.
Some prayed and many donated time and effort…or boxes and packing materials.
Mom’s Spring Creek Church (SCC) family was amazing! I could never name all of the ways they were a blessing – and will probably devote more writing space later to the role of the local church in caring for those with dementia.
A couple from mom’s Sunday School class (quietly going through their own physical trials) brought over an occasional meal and little gift.
Several of mom’s friends (including her former retired pastor and his wife) took mom to hair appointments when I couldn’t be there.
The SCC pastoral staff made several visits which blessed her greatly (and blessed ME even more).
A very generous friend, ran a pre-estate sale, helping me move a huge portion of unneeded items, generating a small amount of cash which would help my mom get established in her new place.
The SCC youth group took most of the remaining items off of our hands to sell at a rummage sale, helping them raise funds for a mission trip.
And the SCC pastors and deacons teamed up to help us empty her house and load up the moving truck!
And, of course, there was the One who was with me each and every step of the downsizing way.
He is the One who provided peace when my heart was troubled.
Joy when I only felt sadness.
Comfort when I grieved.
Wisdom in my confusion.
Patience when I felt anything but.
Encouragement when I was down.
Grace when I only felt like screaming.
He will never leave me or forsake me.
I would be remiss if I forgot to praise Him from whom all blessings flow.
Wife of one, mother of 2+2, and Grandma of 6 (3 girls and 3 boys!) and full-time caregiver for my sweet Momma with Alzheimer's. Passionate about Jesus, grandkids, Awana Clubs, gardens, quilts and cooking.
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