In most caregiver/patient relationships, the caregiver receives the greater share of positive reinforcement from concerned onlookers, while the person receiving care is pitied but not often praised. I must make a confession: in my relationship with my mother, she is the remarkable partner, not I. To prove my point I spent some time today searching through about twenty of my mother’s journals, spiral notebooks that she fills at the rate of about one a week.
Mom’s writing reveals that gratitude and faith are key characteristics of her daily life; these virtues are responsible for her generally positive mindset during the years she has struggled with Alzheimer’s disease.
Here, as a Christmas gift to those her life has touched, are some quotes from Mom’s notebooks:
“Lord please help me—no desperation—just an acknowledgment of constant need. I am so blessed by the beauty of Christmas color around me: the tiny lights illuminate the tree, the big afghan you led me to do long ago, Irma’s Christmas candle pillows and always, gentle music” (December, 2007).
“No recollection comes to me of what I did today. I wish that was unusual but it isn’t—short, short memory…but I feel fine—remarkable! Lord, I’m grateful for apparent good health despite flawed memory” (January, 2009).
“When I was young I thought at 85 years of age I would be decrepit and not able to think. Though nothing as well as 20, I still enjoy life and feel ok about myself. Just stay open to God” (June, 2009).
“The contrast between this warm Christmas decorated apartment and the stark outside winter scene is almost startling but gives us a special thankfulness” (Christmas Eve, 2009).
“I am blessed with generally good health, eyesight, hearing, etc. There are no words to express the blessings of a comfortable life at any age, but at this age it is a blessing I never expected to have. Sure, people live to 88, but with mind and body so intact is very special. I bow down, Lord, no words to express how I think about it…feel in my heart concerning my circumstances. Amen! I smile because there are few “happenings” in a senior’s life—and I’m glad! But what is—is peace, comfort with my Lord Jesus ever close. Yes, blessed!” (March, 2012)
Every time I consider throwing Mom’s notebooks away, I flip one open and find some gem of wisdom that causes me to slip yet another Rubbermaid keeper full of spiral notebooks into the attic cubby above Mom’s apartment. When her earthly voice is stilled, I will still have my mother’s notebooks as a reminder that faith and gratitude in the face of life’s challenges bring peace.