Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Entering Stage Seven of Alzheimer's

I received a text today from my sister Lisa saying that Mom has been really struggling for the past five days.

From what we can tell, she's entered Stage Seven of Alzheimer's, which is the final stage.

She won't take her pills anymore.  It takes two people to lift her.  She doesn't remember how to brush her teeth, and she spends most of the day sleeping or staring off into space.  She isn't "there" anymore. 

I called my sister Susan, who was with her today, and I tried to talk with Mom on the phone for just a few moments. My mom said, "Hi April!" really enthusiastically, but then she withdrew back into herself and couldn't say anything else.

But tomorrow is Thursday, and that's my day to be with her.  

It's also Halloween, so Eric is going to come with me, and we're going to take these four cuties with us:

The plan is to eat dinner at my parents' house and then lift Mom into the wheelchair so she can go trick-or-treating with us for a little while.

Eric suggested I simply enjoy my time with my mom and stop pointing out the "lasts," but I can't stop thinking that this will probably be our last Halloween together.  

Once the trick-or-treating is over, Eric is going to take the children home, and then I'm going to get to stay the night at my parents' house and fly to New York the following morning for the Power of Moms Retreat (which I'm really excited about . . . but I think it's okay to be excited about one thing and sad about another thing at the same time).

I'm sure the events over the next few days will work out fine, but oh, it's been a hard evening for me.

I'm uploading documents to pick up at the Kinko's in New York and cleaning off my camera for tomorrow, but I just keep breaking down. I know life has to come to a close for everyone, and I know my mom needs a release from this heartbreaking disease.  I just don't think there's going to ever be a point where I'll be ready to say goodbye. (Those of you who have gone through this . . . were you EVER ready?)

My children can sense how hard this is for me.  They keep hugging me and kissing me and saying, "Mom, everything is going to be okay." 

We listened to an audiobook tonight, and I spent a few minutes tickling each of their backs before tucking them in bed. It's a little hard to describe, but I feel like I'm mothering in slow motion--paying close attention to every sweet facial expression, every precious interaction, and every memory we're making. I keep thinking that perhaps if I love my children as fully as I can, maybe my mom will be able to feel it--and know that all her years teaching me and nurturing me and being there for me were worth the effort.

I miss her so much.  So, so much.  But I get to live every single day smack dab in the middle of my own family.  And this life of ours--as imperfect as it may be--is breathtakingly beautiful.

So that's where things stand today.

Thanks--again--for being with me through this.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. April you are amazing


  3. There is no doubt in my mind about her being able to feel your love. How could she not? I am so sorry for the situation, but so happy for the loving relationship you have with her, and will enjoy in the eternities. I believe it is the divine hand of God that led you to be helping other mothers mother deliberately, during the time your mother is fading. Love you. xx (best wishes for the retreat in NY.)

  4. I'm crying and praying with you April. My heart aches for you and I pray you can feel the comfort of our Heavenly Father and his loving arms wrapped around you. XOXO Jenn Ward

  5. I hope things get better for you guys soon!

  6. I can't imagine that we will ever be "ready", but thank goodness we know your mom will feel of your love all the days here on earth and in heaven her mind will be perfect again. One day at a time, one moment at a time, you can do this!!

  7. My grandmother is also struggling with this disease and seems to be in the exact stage as your mother. We took our girls over to see her for Halloween last night and she was mostly asleep or had a dazed look on her face throughout our visit.

    This is hard, and it is hard watching her go through this. Of course I don't want her, or my grandpa, to have to keep living like this... but it doesn't make it any easier or have me more ready for the end.

    Life can be difficult but aren't we so lucky to have a Savior who can heal all?

    Thanks for sharing your story. It makes me feel like I am not the only one going through this.

  8. You are in my prayers, April.

  9. April, I just found your blog through a friend's blog who posted a link to yours, so I'm a total stranger, but I'm thinking of you tonight. You sound like such a wonderful, kind person who cherishes each day as a mother. You are inspiring. I haven't been in your shoes exactly--we lost my dad 3 1/2 years ago to cancer, not Alzheimer's. I suppose, even though the disease is different, many of the feelings are the same, and my heart aches for you. No, I don't believe we ever really feel "ready" to say good bye to someone who is imbedded so deeply in our hearts. I didn't realize how painful it could be to watch a loved one die. When the moment came for my dad to go Home, I remember feeling like a little girl again...scared to have my dad go away, not wanting to let go of him...Time has a way of healing, but in some ways I miss him more as time goes on. I'm thrilled for him to be free from his body that was suffering so much and limiting him from the things that he loved to do and was so good at, but I SO miss talking with him and being able to see him and touch him. I do feel him close at times, though, especially at special family events such as my kids' baptisms and things--and in special places such as the temple. I know that you will feel that same closeness with your mom after she slips away. It's so comforting knowing where our sweet loved ones go when they depart this mortal life, and knowing that they are in good hands. Perfect hands. Even knowing that, and knowing that our good byes are only temporary, I've been surprised by how much it still hurts to not have our dear loved ones physically with us. It does cause us to think more deeply about our family relationships and hug our kids and spouses a little tighter and to try to enjoy every little moment with our loved ones, and that is a blessing. I'll be thinking of you and your mom and praying for peace and comfort for your family. I wish I could say it's really not so bad, but it is a tough one. There are really tender, peaceful moments amidst the heartache, though, where heaven seems awfully close. Heavenly Father is so good to us. Take care.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Kim. I appreciate your sweet thoughts. They mean more than you know.


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