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Being a Caregiver

20 Apr

It’s 3 am. Mom and I are awake. She’s got a lot on her mind and is engaging me and the other folks that she sees in the room in conversation intermittently tonight. As I sit here I realize that the journey of a caregiver is unique for each person. History and relationship with the person for whom you are providing care are factors. The caregivers own physical, emotional, and spiritual health are factors. Support of family and friends are factors. Financial health which includes income, health insurance, life insurance, longterm care insurance, savings, etc. to provide care, hire additional help, purchase equipment and other items are factors. Quality of the medical team and other caregivers and aids are factors. Additional priorities of the caregiver (work, family, school, etc.) are factors. Temperament of the caregiver and the one being cared for are factors. Physical fitness of the caregiver is a factor. Access to additional support and safe places for the caregiver and the one being cared for where they can be supported, heard, seen, speak their truths, process emotions, be rejuvenated and more are factors. Spiritual strength to move through the process, remain a healthy vessel to demonstrate love to the one being cared for and to one’s self as the caregiver are factors. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, known as the fruit of the spirit, are factors. All of these things and more shape the journey. At the start though, it’s all about facing a situation and figuring out how you are going to get through it. Praying for all of us walking the path with it’s twists, turns, highs, lows, joys, pains, rewards, costs, good days and bad days, and more. Even now as I am closing this message my mother is smiling at me. She’s alive and I’m grateful and that’s all that matters in this moment. #latenightthoughts #preciousmomentswithmom #lordgivemestrengthtomorrow #sleeppatternsareinflux #ilovemymommy #alzheimers #lewybodydementia #caregiver #lifeofacaregiver

Mother’s Day Tribute #8

14 May

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!!

I celebrate my mother and honor her for all she has instilled in me. Mothers and daughters often go through rough years and we certainly did. Here we are at this stage of life where I get to care for her, love her, protect her, and guide her to her next phase of her journey. I am the daughter of Reverend Dr, Dalineta Hines. I am blessed to have been loved, nurtured and shaped by this incredible woman. Alzheimer’s has impacted her body, her mind, her life and our roles in each other’s lives. It has also given me the opportunity to love and experience my mother in new ways. I’m grateful that she gave me life. I am also honored that she made that life an incredible life. I will always love and treasure my mother!

her children call her blessed

Mother’s Day Tribute #7

13 May

My mother taught me to know, love, pursue and serve God. There is not a single aspect of my mother’s life and living that was not based on her spiritual foundation. Hospital administrator, wife, mother, friend, leader, team member, ministry partner, church member, teacher, advisor, mentor, student, and every other way Mom has shown up in the world has been built on her strong spiritual foundation. Mom and Dad started every day with reading Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” and praying together…every single day. They ended every day with prayer. She never faces an issue alone, God is always with her. When singing around the house, she would sing hymns and spiritual songs. When celebrating accomplishments, God is glorified. When facing trials and tribulations, God is  called upon to strengthen and make a way. God and holiness are simply the air she breathes. Now that Alzheimer’s is ravaging her brain, God is still at the forefront. Her caregiver reads the bible with her and sings hymns with her. Late at night when Mom and I have our alone time, we sing hymns and spiritual songs, and I read My Utmost for His Highest to her. These are the things that bring her peace and joy. From the day I was born until this day, my mother has lived a life that makes God look good. I want to know God because of the way my mother lived and lives her life publicly and privately. I want to know the God that has come through for her time and time again. I want to know the God that is still with Mom know as she is on this journey through Alzheimer’s. I want to serve the God that fascinated me as mom read bible stories to me as a child. This Living God that permeated and still permeates every aspect of Mom’s life is the one I now pursue, love, serve, and take time to get to know deeper and more intimately. I am blessed to be my mother’s child and a child of God. I thank God for my mother and the life she has lived!

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Mother’s Day Tribute #5

11 May

My mother taught me to appreciate art, culture, traveling and etiquette. My mother made time for trips to museums, concerts, art exhibits, the theater, etc. She made sure that all of her children took piano lessons and whatever other instruments grabbed our attention. We were all in choirs at school and church. My brothers were boy scouts. My sister and I had bad allergies and that got us out of girl scouts pretty quickly. Dining out was always an adventure. Knowing how to pronounce everything on the menu was important. Knowing when to use each utensil, glass, plate, bowl, etc. was also important. Sitting properly, walking properly (I can still feel her knuckle running down my spine when I realize that I am slouching), speaking properly, dressing appropriately, being informed about world affairs, local politics, sports, and issues negatively impacting our community, knowing at least one language other than English (the Queen’s english vs American english is a topic for another day) all of these things were part of growing up in the Hines household. Mom made reading an adventure. Trips to the library were like trips to a fantasy land. I remember escaping into the world of whatever book I was reading. Reading with my mother was the BEST. She made every word pop off of the page. I could see the words not just hear them. We didn’t just use our imaginations to travel, we got in our car, a plane, a train, whatever it took to get around. My parents travelled extensively and made sure that we knew that the world was much bigger than our neighborhood. There was always something to see, learn, and experience. She consistently found ways to expand our knowledge and experience of the world and its people. I am very grateful for that.

The Hines and Evans Couples

Mom and Dad with Uncle Louis and Aunt Cokie Evans.

2017 Mother’s Day Tribute #3

9 May

My mother taught me that intelligence and resourcefulness are aspects of beauty. Now don’t get it twisted. Mom was a Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Lord & Taylor shopping queen. She liked to dress well and look good. She also made it clear that all of that was meaningless if when you opened your mouth there was nothing. Beyond that she made it clear that intelligence was not something you hoard. Intelligence should be used to serve others and increase your ability to be a resource in any and all environments.  In talking about their days of courting, my parents consistently mentioned how large a role intelligence played in their attraction to each other.  The look in their eyes when they talked about it made it clear that intelligence still played a big role in their marriage. They knew that they could rely on each other’s intelligence and resourcefulness.

I grew up in that era where asking questions or not being able to answer a question often meant that one was about to spend some time with their head in the Encyclopedia Britannica (the actual books…no internet access back then). I remember doing research and preparing reports (written and/or oral/) on what I had learned. Once the report was shared with mom, she would often give me a big hug, a kiss, and then say, “That was beautiful, Miss Del!” Want to impress Mom? Be brilliant and look good doing it! Want to dazzle her? Apply what you had learned to help someone or to improve a system or process!

Mom - smiling mouth closed

We’ll See What the Lord Will Do

5 May

Whenever closing a conversation where the ultimate conclusion was yet to be determined, my mother was sure to say, “We’ll see what the Lord will do.” She said this so often that almost everyone who knows her ends up using this phrase from time to time. As we journey through the late stages of Alzheimer’s with Mom, I find myself saying it often.

I’m not sure how others move through this part of the journey but my family and I are fully leaning on God’s everlasting arms. We are doing our work and moving through these days knowing that ultimately, we will simply see what the Lord will do…and that’s the best and right thing.

Praying for all us on this journey…this winding road…this rollercoaster…this beast called Alzheimer’s.

You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail

The Past, Present, and Future

27 Oct

past-present-and-future

Alzheimer’s is a tricky disease. My mother is fixated on moving forward. She has her eye on the future. She always has something she needs to do, somewhere she needs to go, and someone she needs to talk with, and things that people real to us both and real to her only need to be doing and saying.  I am the one clinging to the past, longing for what was, wanting her to join me in the past.  When I become aware of this conundrum, it is often driven by my neglect of our present circumstances showing up in ways that disturb, arrest, and/or piss me off.  Undone housework, unmanageable hair, missed appointments, calls left unreturned, tasks uncompleted or even not started at all, relationships showing the wear and tear of lack of atttention on my part, self-care being backburnered for so long that my body and mind are on the verge of a crisis snap me back into awareness that I must refocus…get back to the present.  As my mother’s caregiver, I am slowly learning that I cannot ignore the present. Today, now, this moment, I choose to come back to now. God will take care of us through it all. I can let go…it will be alright. For mom the past, future and present don’t exist separately.  For her they are all happening now.  That’s one of Alzheimer’s cooler tricks and I am doing my best to embrace that.

Be Blessed!