It’s been 3 weeks since

Mom died. For ten years I wondered if she’d go all the way to the end of the Alzheimer’s path. I hoped she wouldn’t. She did. It was an unexpected blessing.

Here’s what I learned:
– connect with others along the path and you’ll handle your own challenges better.
– repeat to yourself often: “This, too, will pass.”
– treat persons with Alzheimer’s with dignity and love for they are still in there.
– friendships are uplifting in times of distress.
– family and friends far away can feel very close.
– belief in life after death is a true comfort.
– we are only a blip on the screen in relation to our universe.
– email works as well as a card or letter when expressing heart-felt emotion.
– God has a plan for every one of us – be receptive to it.

The morning mom died, Jack’s car broke down on his way to work. This is rare. I was asleep when he called and asked if I’d take him to work. AAA was on its way to take the car. I agreed to be there in 10-15 minutes. Flew out of bed, got dressed, told my sister I’d keep going to mom’s since Jack’s office is half-way there. She said, “I’ll go with you.” We drove off looking ragged. We’d been with mom til after midnight and left her sleeping comfortably.

Taking Jack to work got us to her earlier than we would have on our own. When we arrived her breathing sounded awful, like an old percolator struggling. I held the phone to her mouth for the hospice nurse to hear. She was surprised that mom had progressed to that point so quickly. A couple of drops of morphine calmed her breathing. We held her hand, talked to her, prayed for her. After an hour her breathing slowed, continued gently, then stopped. Then we watched her carotid artery in her neck beat slower and slower til it stopped. She was gone.

I never thought I’d say this, but it was a privilege to experience those last moments with her. We’d been through so much together, it felt natural to be with her as she took her last breaths. It was peaceful. We know her spirit lives on in heaven. She’s happier now than ever. And she’s keeping an eye on us, as she always has.

We learned so much from our experiences with Alzheimer’s disease. I wouldn’t trade it for any other way to go. She was not in pain. Her pleasant smile warmed hearts. Our connections with friends, family and caregivers grew stronger. It was a blessing in many ways.


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  • A beautiful story. Your Mom passed on peacefully and you were there to witness her passing. God's providence took you to her at the right moment. I do not belief with are just a blip in the universe – although I do know what you mean. We, who are made in God's image are greater than the cosmos. We have more going on inside us than all the star systems put together.
    Fr Serafim

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