Life sometimes comes at us like a tsunami, washing away the supports beneath our feet, knocking us over, changing the landscape of the path we were on, or at least we were heading towards.
I'm sure that's how my mother felt the day we finally explained that she could no longer live on her beloved farm. I'm certain she feels that way now, as her dementia steals more and more of the life she knew, replacing it with clouded snippets of memories, and confusion. She notices the whispers as we discuss the remaining options open to us--those that fit the needs of parents that failed to plan, whose golden years must be worked out by children who waited too long to have the hard conversations.
Most of us are unprepared for the sudden change, when what was thought to be merely stubbornness and depression is actually much more. When a mother renowned for her cooking chooses to eat spoiled food rather than waste, resulting in frequent bouts of "the flu."
There are more unexplained falls, rambling calls, cries for help, unpaid bills, late notices, creditor calls, and worse. Families finally reach the point, when they can no longer excuse away the increasing chaos. When unwanted action is required.
Mom made it clear, far in advance of any effort to move her, that she suspected we were plotting something. She told us she would rather die. Hard words from a once gentle lady, who now shakes her fists at you as if she's ready to strike out, and damn the consequences.
There are no good choices. They're angry if you intervene, and they suffer if you don't.
So many well-meaning people offer their opinions on something that is amongst the most personal decisions a child will ever make. We are the cream filling in the Oreo, trying to balance the needs of multiple generations, to honor the wishes of ailing parents, an aging spouse, overwhelmed married children, single adults who still need loving approbation, and grandchildren who cry for us to come right now, across thousands of miles, to play.
We consider the impact each decision will have on the rest of the family. Ripples. . . .
Life hits like a tsunami sometimes. I'm still enough of a work-in-progress that my first momentary instinct is to panic, then He sends help--a call, a verse, a talk, a friend--and I am reminded of His greatest advice. "Be still, and know that I am God."
(Laurie is preparing "The Dragons of Alsace Farm" for publication. It deals with the impact of dementia.)