Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Thursday, March 16

Remembering Love

My mother was a remarkable woman, who was once described by the parenting instructor at the Child Care Association as being far ahead of her time when it came to parenting skills, partially because of her ability to communicate. She was devoted to her children and grandchildren. So it came as a shock the first time I realized that she no longer knew my name.

She and my sister Darita (Mom’s primary care giver) had moved in with me in what we all thought might be a permanent arrangement. As an accomplished LPN, Darita always greeted Mom in the morning with “Good Morning Mom, it’s Darita.” That first morning at my house, she pointed at me and said “Do you know who this is?” Mom shook her head no. I nearly fainted. Darita continued matter-of-factly, “This is Jolene, she’s your oldest daughter.” So the two of us took on the task of talking to and caring for Mom as her cognitive and communication skills continued to decline.

Eventually we sold mother’s house in Russell to a niece’s family with the stipulation that Mom and/or Darita could live there as long as it was appropriate for their needs. After some refinishing, the time came to move Mom and Darita to Russell, to the home where we were raised. Darita would have more help in caring for Mom, and she was homesick for her children and grandchildren.

We loaded the electric hospital bed, the air mattress, other hospital equipment and all their other belongings in my pick-up and Darita’s car. It was evening when we got there and Mom was exhausted. She went to sleep almost as soon as the bed was back in commission.

The next day, I stayed to care for Mom while Darita attended the funeral of a family friend whose children were closer to her age than mine. Mom and I sat in two recliners in the living room where we could look out the picture window and/or watch TV. I noticed that she kept looking out the window and sighing softly. I said to her, “It’s nice to be home again isn’t it Mom?” She rewarded me with a nod of her head and one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen.

That’s when it struck me that the mother I loved was still in that body even if she couldn’t tell me so. She was as trapped with frustration as were we. God chose this way to remind me again that he is with us always - even or maybe especially on the bad days.

Jolene Dougherty

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