Thursday, November 20, 2008

my 85 year old mother has Alzheimer's. she had been living with us, but when she broke her hip a year ago it became necessary to put her in a nursing home. this is not a decision i came to lightly. there was much guilt involved, emotional turmoil but that is really besides the point for this post.

this nursing home provides multiple church services during the day, three i think, all offered by different churches in our county. apparently saving the souls of these elderly residents is part of their mission. at various times i might visit my mother only to find her snoozing soundly during one of these services which are held be very zealous men and/or women who pace back and forth with little black bible in hand shouting out the glory of the Almighty. residents who manage to stay awake and somewhat lucid nod their heads, say amen or praise be or whatever. i mean no disrespect here at all. this is just how it is.

initially, it surprised me very much that my mother was willing to attend these services because all my life she had been very nonreligious. you might even say that she loathed Christianity with a passion. just mentioning the word Jesus would 
 send her into a sarcastic diatribe. once again, i mean no disrespect here. that is just how it was.

now, my mother's Alzheimer's is at present primarily effecting her speech. she still remembers us, but when she tries to speak she cannot remember the correct words to convey her meaningo say. her ability to speak comes and goes. some days it is better, other days almost nonexistent. one day, a few months ago she managed to piece together enough words in jumbled German and English that explained why she didn't mind attending these services. it was something to d, she explained. the preachers, who she called screamers were entertaining. ........ and probably most important of all ... she could snooze without people really paying attention to her. okay, then .. i thought .. those are all fine reasons to attend church. after all, at my husband's church, the few times i do attend, the same men are always snoozing away the service in the back pews .. :)

but anyhoo.............
just this past saturday evening i went to visit my mother. i did not anticipate a church service that late, but lo and behold .. that's where i found her .. snoozing away .. in front of said preachers. i walk in and sit behind her wheelchair, lean forward, put my hand on her shoulder and whisper in her ear. she wakes, turns slightly and with a loud voice explains .. oh! my daughter!!.... yep, she always pronounces my presence quite loudly which is fine by me. we sit there for a while listening to the praise be and glory be. i don't really want to push my mother out. i hate to be rude. the man continues to praise and other residents continue to amen and praise be when all of a sudden my mother tries to say something herself. she stumbles over unintelligible syllables, she tries hard to get words out, she stutters and murmurs, but to no avail. what she wants to say is not coming out.

i almost cringe for my mother. i feel her helplessness. she finally gives up in frustration. i pat her on the shoulder because i ache for her. i don't necessarily mind that she's apparently gotten religion. if she also wants to praise the lord that is quite fine by me. it's just not anything i had anticipated. and i wish she could speak. we listen for a while more when all of a sudden she regroups, straightens herself up in her wheelchair and shouts out what she had been trying to say all along:


i almost guffaw. i can't believe what i'm hearing..!!!! the preacher looks at her kindly and answers back:

Praise be!

to my amazement my mother answers :


ehhhhhh.... you know .. i thought it was best to role my mother out.

**those are all lies!

and who knew that another reason she likes to attend services is the heckling part ......

anyways ..... i drove home with a song and dance in my heart.. my mama is still the mama that i know and dearly love .. despite the Alzheimer's...


ANNA-LYS said...

What a lovely feeling, dear Foamie!
Thanks for sharing, your affection and recognition of Your Mutter.

( ¸¸.* Anna-Lys

ANNA-LYS said...

IF You wonder why I was stepping in anna-lysing Your blogs html code, it was because I try to fix so all my followers become visible, as yours does ... sorry if I came to close lol

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Mixing religion with Alzheimers does at least mean she will be able to hide her own Easter eggs.

Lady Prism said...

Umm'...hee'..hee'..hee! I remember a moment I wanted to yell the very same thing to someone on the pulpit ha!ha!ha!

I like your mom.

This was a nice moment, I bet, you'll never forget.

Anonymous said...

How priceless. And yay to your Mum still being stirred up enough to communicate in spite of the difficulty.

foam said...

Thank you, anna-lys .. :)
and you are anna-lysing my html code? that's fine .. lol .. and i really wouldn't know. i guess if i had a statcounter or sitemeter i might know?

yep, perhaps .. lol ..
and that actually brings back memories of how furious she got one year when a relative explained to my 8 year old brother that the easter bunny doesn't exist and that those eggs were actually hidden my my mama..
man, did she get mad ..

yes, i've been there a few times myself. i try to listen, but i have to admit that my mind usually just wanders..

yes, i agree ..
those sermons are actually doing her some good.

HLiza said...

This left me feeling light and nice must have been lovely to know that she is still the same person you know all the while. Such beauty..Thanks Foamie..

Little Lamb said...

Dad is getting up on age, heck, he's there and thankfully is quite healthy. I do wonder when that time comes, that he is no longer able to do for himself, how I will take care of him. Time will tell.

SJ said...

I <3 Foam's mom :)

Your mom does know the truth about lies.

AlmightyHeidi said...

Foam,I love humor in the midst of trial, it helps to lighten the load. I remember my grandmother dying, She had lupus and it went to her brain. Sometimes she was there, sometimes not. Ijust had my daughter, and brought her in and laid her down ext to my grandmother. She patted her head, and siad "Now Heidi, you make sure you take care of her teeth",..then nodded off. A funny statement, and her last words to me.
Little did she know what a horror story my daughters teeth have been for the last 10 years..ending up in jaw surgery this upcoming year. It does make me smile in some sense..;)

Anonymous said...

much love
in this story

<3's to foam & foam mom

¤ ¤ ¤


Anonymous said...

Your text remind me of the All employee meeting I must attend at regular times. The same men are always snoozing away the service in the back pews.

I like your mutter.

frizzy scissorhands said...

a touching story. what a hard thing to have to do ... loving is difficult and painful sometimes, isn't it?

Crushed said...

I guess its good to know that she still has the mind you always knew...

Bet the preacher didn't know where to put himself...

foam said...

yes, i was glad to know that she is still the same ..
and the preacher never knew what she said..
he speaks english, she spoke in german..

yes, it is ..
and i know you know that .. XO

and they get away with it too i bet ..

thank you .. :)

that is a great story ..
it's good to finally see you after 3 years, btw.. you and your daughter are beautiful. i have two sons with hardware in their mouth.. i know all about teeth ..
hope your daughter's upcoming surgery goes well..

thank you, sj ..
and you know what? she'd get a kick out of your irreverant sense of humor, actually.
even before the alzheimer's.

little lamb,
i always thought my mother would breeze through her 80s and perhaps start slowing down around 90.
she had always been so vibrant, young looking, energetic. throughout her 70s she ran circles around me .. she was that full of energy. and really healthy too.
alzheimers really plays a number on people. i sincerely hope your father stays healthy for a long, long time..

thank you, hliza ..
it was really so good to know that whe was still 'in there'..

dianne said...

So lovely to share that beautiful moment with us dearest Foamie...see the Mum you remember is still there despite the Alzheimers...they constantly surprise us. ♥♥♥

foam said...

yes, she is still there....
i really need that moment becaue just a few days before she didn't speak at all ..
it was heartbreaking..

foam said...

oh, and thank you for my hearts ..
i get a kick out of those hearts of yours ..

dianne said...

It is heartbreaking dearest Foamie, I know all about the feelings of guilt, trying to take care of them when it becomes impossible and the nursing home decision is never taken lightly. My Mum passed away four years ago, she Alzheimer's for many years before that. It is so hard to watch someone you love so much sadly disappear into this person who is so different from the vibrant person she was. My Mum was so confused about everything and frightened, in fact the roles had been reversed, I was now the Mum and she was the child. She never lost her sweetness or her dignity and every now and then there was a little glimmer of the Mum I used to know. Those days were so happy for me and I miss her so much.I'm so glad you had one of those happy moments with your darling Mum. ♥♥♥

puerileuwaite said...

I just want to go on record that I thought your mom would make a perfect mother-in-law BEFORE this post. Now I'm convinced.

Ich bin ein Berliner!

foam said...

ahhhh, dianne ..
it actually helps to hear the stories of other people who care for or have cared for elderly parents ..
thanks so much .. gonna steal one of her hearts here ..
okay ..
copy ..
and paste ..


anybody who thinks my mom would make a great mother-in-law is wonderful by me ..
du kannst gut deutsch sprechen .. ;)

ThursdayNext said...

This post got me teary, Foam. Of late I suspect my grandmother of 86 years has been having major memory lapses, and I hope it does not progress, but I am fearful. Thank you for sharing this...and God bless your dear mom!

dianne said...

Foamie my dearest friend, it does help to share sometimes though as far as my family life is concerned (not my love life)I'm usually very private about that. But at the moment I am taking care of my elderly Dad, who is very frail and I care for my son who has a debilitating incurable neurological disease. I have quite a load to carry but hey there are so many people who have more to cope with than me. Thank you for sharing that beautiful moment with us, I found it uplifting. I went to bed last night thinking about my Mum and what a loving Mother she was. :-)
You can have as many of my hearts as you want dear girl. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Merelyme said...

LOL...oh i love your mother too...that is so great. my sweet dear foam. these moments you capture...this is life...this is what it is all about. i like to think that despite age or illnesses we still retain what makes us unique. this story gives me hope.

Ruela said...

you're great.

big kiss to a great woman.

Pamela said...

unlike your mother, so many in those homes don't have anyone to visit.

I give a lot of credit to those people who give up their free time to share with the elderly and sick.
Even tho was quite funny that your mom got her say in about what she thought of their preaching.

A group of us went last year and sang Christmas songs (in an Alzheimer unit -- where an old friend is and didn't really recognize us) Most of them remembered the words to the music and sang along. There were some humorous moments with a few of them, too.

My husbands 59 year old sister has Alzheimers.

I hope lightning strikes me first.

boneman said...

oshit she's right!
Dianne, I mean.
Well, probably your Ma, too.

Dianne said I ain't been around often enough, and she's right.
Your Ma sees some jerk yelling at you sure don't sound very Christian to me!
And you're happy to have a Ma, still.

Pink said...


I'm with frizzy scissors. Loving is difficult and painful sometimes. And weirdly, joyful at the same time. I'm glad you found the joy again.

foam said...

i so hope that your grandmother's memory lapses do not progress either.

people our age are often sandwiched between the care of elderly parent/s and children. it is so much harder when both are not well.
my thoughts go out to you and your son and your dad ..
much love from me to you ..

and my thoughts and love go out to you too ..
you have quite the load to carry too.

okay ..
later on i will visit my mother and give her a big kiss and tell her it is from a very cool and handsome portuguese artist ..

yes, there are some who's family live far away or do not have family anymore. if they are out and about in the hallways or in the activity areas i visit with them too.
i want to be struck by lightning too before this happens to me. but it very well might and i've told my sons that they can go ahead and put me in a home even if i can still walk. it was amazingly stressful to have my mother live with us with alzheimers while she was still able to walk. i don't want my boys to have to go through the same thing.

yes, i'm so grateful to still have a ma....
i always enjoy your visits boneman, but i do know that you have computer issues, so don't worry about not showing up if it's too difficult. when your computer woes are over i'll look forward to seeing more of you .. :)

yep, it is all of that ..
and aggravating, especially if it involves men ..
tsk ..

Indigo said...

Indigo Incarnates

Heckling church in German... now that's an idea whose time has come! :) I'm glad your grandmother gets something useful and fun out of church!

X. Dell said...

When you IM'd this story to me, I laughed out loud. It's funnier to see it in the proper font and sizes.

I really understand how it is. It's always great to see our elders maintain their sense of identity, depsite everything else. Both of my grandmothers were pretty much who they were on the days they died. It's not much. But as you relate this sotry, I think, "Well, that's something, at least."

..................... said...

hey indigo,
if you need to know some good german church heckling words i can tell you some .. :),
after i relayed this incident to you through IM i decided to blog about it.

yes, and that is something, at least ..
finding a glimmer of the person we once knew ..

dianne said...

Thank you Foamie my dear friend, much love to you too.
I accept each day as it comes and try to rise to the challenges which confront me. ♥

Anonymous said...

I guess I have Alzheimer light, forgetting where I am and what to do and in what direction ----

ANNA-LYS said...

You couldn't figure out the artist name.
Sorry, You didn't win the contest.


K9 said...

what a story! i cant believe the advantage taken of essentially a captive audience and the frequency of church services. very disturbing. doesnt even seem legal to me. but your mom is a rebel! i love your epiphany at the end with the sighting that spirit again.

poor God he gets the worst representatives.

Anonymous said...

Oh Foamy...hee hee..I wanna meet yore Mama! Thas' a grand story.

Youse the finest daughter--I recall the decision makin' time. Must be the season fer Mamas, huh?

Ya'll have a marvelous Thanksgivin'.


foam said...

aunty anon!
thank you ..
yep it's the season for mama's alright. i hope yours is recuperating nicely ..
you have a good thanksgiving too

yes, my mom has always had a bit of a rebellious spirit.
you know ... not all the residents attend those services. or they go maybe just one or twice a week. and my mother wouldn't have to go. they don't force the residents to go. but she apparently wants to go. she actually appreciates the singing and piano playing. despite being irreligious, she's always had a soft spot for spirituals.
also .. it's a good place to snooze ..

foam said...

anna ..

no, that's not alzheimer's light ..
that's just called being middle-aged ..
comes with the territory. .. :)

yes, that's the best thing to do ..

Helene (aka Kate) said...

OMG this is a priceless story! I bet you and your family had a good laugh about it over dinner! hehehe

Its so tough to see parents age... heck, its tough to see myself age!hehehe

Hope you have a wonderful THanksgiving!! I am still working on getting Cora to visit Philly... when she does, you will have to try to come too!


foam said...

blue kate!
good to see you!
ya, i know what you mean about watching oneself age .. lol .. i don't look in the mirror that much anymore ..
you bet i'll try to come up to visit you one of these days.
hope you and yours have a great thanksgiving too.

The Phosgene Kid said...

She may not be able to speak, but there's nothing wrong with her perceptions. Keep an eye on the holy men to make sure they aren't reaching into her pocketbook for "donations" while she sleeps.

Thanks for sharing the story...

Monique said...

What a heartening post Foam. Never ever lose hope. You've got a great mum.

ANNA-LYS said...

For You and Your family a Happy Thanksgiving

foam said...

thanks anna-lys ... lol ..

yes, i won't give up hope. and i do have a great mama. thank you .. :)

no worries about the pocketbook. i'm in control of it.
besides, soliciting is not allowed in this care facility.
but, yes, my mom still has excellent perception when it comes to things like this.

Bobby said...

My mom was the opposite. She was very religious for a long time. But when I came to visit her at the hospital, I'd read to her, and she didn't want me to read her Bible to her - she wanted me to read some O. Henry stories.

foam said...

good for her. she knew what she needed for this particular time in her life.... and, obviously, it wasn't the bible.

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