The first distinct memory I have of my mom is from when I was four years old. We lived in Sheridan, Wyoming, my parents were recently out of Bible College and had just finished up with, what shall I say, a less than happy ministry experience. We were living in an old farm house in a rural addition called Donner Addition. My folks were attempting some agricultural projects to supplement their income. Dad was raising huge rabbits called Flemish Giants to sell to the grocery stores; mom was attempting to raise chickens. She had just purchased a brand new batch of a couple dozen chicks to raise. There was a hawk that decided mom’s chickens were easy pickens and began to swoop down and cart them away one by one. After a few days of being terrorized by the predator mother decided to take matters into her own hands, she decided to shoot the hawk. My dad had an antique 22 pistol that his dad had made by cutting off a single shot 22 rifle. Mother pulled the gun out of the drawer and was able to find one bullet. Being the conscientious person that she was she didn’t load the gun until she got out in the yard where the hawk was in the process of stealing yet another chick. She attempted to load the gun and dropped the bullet in the gravel driveway.
My memory is of my mom on her hands and knees in the gravel, looking for that bullet and crying.
I don’t remember the end of the story if the hawk got all of the chicks, or what happened to the hawk. But I do remember my mom crying over those baby chickens and that lost bullet. That was my mom, caring about little things that she had very little power to do anything about.
My mom today is in a very similar situation, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia, in a place that is not home, looking for her lost life, not able to find it or do anything about it. I see her now just like she was that day on her hands and knees looking for that lost bullet. But now she is confused, afraid and trying to make sense of a situation that there is no sense or justice to at all.
Not only is my mother crying, upset, confused, afraid and angry, but so am I. I feel like I am grieving for the loss of her on a daily basis. When my dad died, it was final, done, over with and the grieving could start and then recede as time goes on. With mom its always there, it never really starts or stops it’s just always a thought away. As a child I didn’t know what to do when I saw my mother crying and now it’s not much different. What do you do for the person in your life that bore you, nurtured you, saw to your needs, taught you about life and was always there for you? How can I always be there for her when she’s afraid I’m going to hurt her or even kill her? She blames me for locking her up when all I’m trying to do is keep her from running away and freezing to death down an alley behind a dumpster
They always say that babies don’t come with instructions well neither do parents who have Alzheimer’s disease.
Grace and Peace