How much time do you spend waiting?…for your loved one to finish eating or to find a lost glove?….Dementia complicates their simplest moves. Since patience is not my big virtue, I’ve developed tricks to calm myself through long waits. While Mom weeds slowly through her salad, I sometimes write haiku.
It doesn’t take long to sketch out one of these small poems. The basic form is just three lines. First line must have five syllables, second line has seven, third line has five. As caregiver activities go, this one probably exercises your mind as much as a crossword puzzle. You also get the satisfaction of creating something original. I invite other creative readers to write a haiku and share it here with our caregiving audience. Here are some caregiver moments cast in the haiku form.
Thank God for gardens.
Flower names have slipped away
Blooms still look joyful.
Worries crease my face
As your grey head grows heavy
Who, here, is the child?
Feet slow as syrup
I can’t take much more plodding
So I’ll sing — why not?
Go ahead, write a little poem and post it here. We’re all ears.
The times when I feel sorry for myself are not my proudest moments. But when you’re caring for a mom with dementia, sometimes you’ve got to ask, “Why me?” On those days, I try to remind myself that dementia is mainly a disease of old age. If your mom has lived long enough to get it — and you’ve lived long enough to become her caregiver — luck is at work in your life.
Open any tabloid and you’ll be reminded that many children lose their mothers to cancer and drunk drivers. Some kids never know their mom because adoption or divorce gets in the way. A dear friend of mine died at 37, leaving behind a five year old son. She would have suffered any discomfort imaginable to buy one more day with her boy. But science could not help her earn a pass to longer life.
My mom is sick, and there’s nothing I can do to stop the advance of her illness. But I’m so thankful that she lived long enough for me to really know her before dementia took over. I’m grateful that I, too, survived these years and learned what it’s really like to care for a parent I had taken for granted.
Being a witness to this disease can be hard, but on Mother’s Day I try to keep in mind that good fortune wears strange masks. Sharing a meal with my mom and giving her a hug is quite a privilege. Fate has kept her alive and taught me to see that being a “mother” to my mother can be a gift. For the weary caregivers, I say, “Happy Mother’s Day everyone!” And for the many moms we care for: “We love you, mothers!”