Sunday, December 6, 2009

Accepting My Role as Caregiver

A characteristic of many Alzheimer patients is an overuse of paper products. Some patients fixate on Kleenex, shredding or stashing tissues in clothing or other more unusual places. In my Mom's case, chronic sinusitis that is probably exacerbated by Aricept (an Alzheimer drug) causes her to need an abundant supply of tissue. Her trash cans must be emptied twice a day, and yesterday I was on my way through her room dragging a large garbage bag behind me when she began a conversation. I had been Christmas shopping earlier in the day, was tired, and was focused on finishing my chores for the day; but I sat down on her couch to listen, the loaded trash sack at my feet a visible sign of my labors on her behalf.

Mom gestured toward the devotional her granddaughter had lent to her and said, "I was reading this devotion book and at the end of the reading it asks you to list your worries so you can give them to the Lord." She looked at me with a child's wide-eyed wonder and said, "I have the Lord, and I have you. You take care of my needs. I don't have one worry! I have perfect peace!" She smiled happily.

I am afraid that I rolled my eyes heavenward and with more than a tinge of sarcasm said, "Well that must be nice."

She didn't let my sour disposition disturb her--Mom doesn't let much of anything disturb her--and she returned to reading her book, still smiling.

Mom happily partakes of the services I provide for her with no comprehension of the burdens I bear to keep her so carefree. The fact that my mother has no compassion for my weariness or empathy for the difficulties of the jobs I perform on her behalf is the most compelling evidence of her dementia. Earlier in her life she was not comfortable if I so much as offered to get my own glass of water--she would jump up and fetch it for me. Now she sits, complacent, as meals and housekeeping services are provided for her.

That it should be difficult to respond in love to someone who has just expressed glad appreciation for the peace God has provided to them reveals sinfulness in me. God has ordained peace and rest for my mother during these final years of her life. It is foolish for me either to envy her restfulness or to resent her for partaking of it with such contentment. At this point in our lives, my mother's challenge is to bear with grace the confinement of infirmity, while my anointed work is to be her caregiver. I must be careful not to grumble. God doesn't like that.

Scripture: "Do everything without complaining..." (Philippians 2:14).

1 comment:

  1. I like this post because it is straightforward, honest and simply does not gloss over sinfulness. Yet, you turn us in a gentle fashion toward the Lord as always. Thank you.