I wrote this 8 years ago. My mom didn’t die until December 2019. A reminder of how long dementia can last in an otherwise healthy body. A side effect of the disease, evident in the caregivers, is forgetting how the person was before.
At the time I wrote this, mom still laughed, still remembered some of what mattered. I share it for Mother’s Day as some of us remember the best days.
My mom has a disease that gradually sucks your mind away. It often helps you remember stories from the past, then disables the counter that keeps track of telling stories.
I’m intrigued by the stories mom finds important to tell me each time I visit and often when we talk on the phone. She talks about the night in December when we sat around a table and her granddaughter Hope talked with great clarity about the idea of church and young adults today. She talks about her prayer for peace as my dad was dying, and the sense of peace that she feels every day since then. And she talks about the time she went to college.
Mom had gone to college for two years, received a teaching certificate, and then taught for a couple years. She decided, somehow, that she needed to finish her four-year degree and so, in the mid-fifties, went to Bethel College in St Paul.
On leaving day, she packed everything in her car. She had a job lined up and thought she had a place to live. In the hesitation that came from leaving rural Wisconsin and heading to the big city, her mother said, “You don’t need to go.”
“Yes, I do,” my mother said.
When she got to town, the place to live was gone. At 1pm, she went to work at Blomberg’s Pharmacy (they closed in 2016) with a fragile lead and constant prayer. At 3:30, friends of her sister walked into the pharmacy, recognized her, invited her to supper at their house and offered her a place to live. She didn’t know they lived across the street.
This story she keeps telling me is a simple story of God providing when she didn’t know where to go. I think she tells me because she’s still there.