Yesterday evening, my eighty-nine-year-old mother awoke from her recliner nap and asked, “Where is my mother?”
It was the first time she was deluded in her thoughts. Until that day, she had no short-term memory and not much long-term recollection— but no delusions. (Delusions, and to a lesser extent hallucination, are not unusual with dementia patients).
Yesterday, she regressed into the past. I didn’t want to frustrate or upset her by telling her that her mother had been dead over thirty years, so I said she was on her way to our house. Mom’s expression was one of confusion, and she expressed that she thought her mother was already there. Maybe she had been dreaming about her. I assured her that her mother would arrive soon.
She then asked, “Am I supposed to cook something?” I assured her I had it under control, so she nodded off again.
A little while later, she awoke and said, “We mustn’t forget to vacuum.”
I assumed she wanted to prepare for the arrival of her mother.
Then she said, “Don’t forget to wake up the children.”
Her voice was so weak I asked her several times to repeat herself. It seemed she was living in a time when I was a child.
Back then, her mother, my grandmother, would come to visit for her birthday and stay a few days. In preparation Mom would grocery shop, clean, and bake. My grandmother’s birthday was two days before mine whom I shared with my twin brother. So, our birthday dinner was one of excitement for us and extra effort for my mother. It was a memorable time for my hard-working mother.
It appeared, Mom’s mind had short-circuited, and she was processing memories from the sixties. It was a time when children ran barefoot through the kitchen as the roast in the oven and the boiling potatoes in the pot raised the temperature. The open windows delivered temperate May breezes for Mom’s relief.
Grandma spread the plates and glasses as hungry children asked when the meal would be ready. Mom was furiously managing all the stove-top delights like a conductor before an orchestra. She coordinated everything toward a simultaneous conclusion.
Yesterday evening as my mother dwelled in her dream world, I joined her. I, too, was drawn to that memorable time. It was when mothers wore house dresses and flour powdered aprons. Trousers danced in the wind on the clothesline while accepting nature’s fragrances. Cakes were made from scratch and the same with the icing. I remembered blackberry cobbler in the summer and apple pies in the fall. On special occasions, Dad took pictures of Mom standing beside her completed table spread.
Someday soon, I’m afraid, photographs will be all I have of my mother. Like a grandfather clock at the end of its tension, she is winding down. She is frail, weak, and unstable. However, in her final thoughts, she may be an energetic young mother preparing a feast.
Possibly, in her thinking, she will be watering African violets and philodendrons in my childhood home on McKinley street when she slips away. In an instant, she will be transformed, renewed, and in Christ’s presence.
While teaching the disciples, Christ promised: “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2 NASB
Like my mother creating a feast for her family, Christ is currently preparing a place for her just reward. It’s a place for all of us.