Memories: Once Lost, Now Restored
My friend and mother-in-law, Del, recently completed her journey with dementia.
And as caregivers, my wife and I completed our 15-year journey through a chapter that you might be familiar with too: “parenting” a parent.
When CPI acquired Dementia Care Specialists several years ago, I raised my hand and asked if I could become involved in developing our DCS training curriculum and resources. Of course I hoped I would be able to contribute, but I also was being selfish: I needed to learn more about this perplexing condition.
A few months ago after a visit to the memory care setting where Del lived, my wife came home and was preoccupied with the stress and emotional turmoil associated with each and every visit. She said she was fine and that the visit was uneventful. Shortly thereafter she broke down into tears.
She said that upon entering Mom’s room, Mom asked, “Do I know you? Are you a friend?”
We knew Del was getting closer to the end of her journey with dementia. Her progression continued, as she soon only murmured in place of speech, forgot how to swallow and would not eat, needed total personal care, drifted in the “thousand-mile stare,” and more recently hospice services were put in place.
I have been to many funerals where condolences are offered, and we often hear or think how our loved one is “no longer in pain,” or “in a better place.” At Del’s funeral I came to a new perspective I had not considered before. I kept having a compelling thought, one that I’d never read about in the research I’ve done.
My thought was: “She’s won.”
The memories we had seen her lose, one by one over these many years, were now fully restored. In her passing, Mom had finally won her battle with dementia.
I found a sense of relief and comfort in this perspective, and share this hoping you may too.
My life is so much richer because of Del, and our family’s personal journey with dementia. I am a better husband, son-in-law, father, grandparent, and person as well, because of this journey. My children have also learned so much and may someday have to use their learning to care for me.
I want to say one more time, “Thank you, Del.” Enjoy your memories. We will.