The Gift in Alzheimer’s

December 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She can’t recall common nouns, like shampoo. She doesn’t remember that leaves fall off trees in winter. She no longer recalls the names of my children. She thinks my brother and his wife still live in town when they’ve lived in East Texas for 20 years. She counts and recounts the money in her wallet a dozen times in the three mile drive to her beauty shop because she can’t remember how much she has. She can’t read a menu and she wonders what a taco is. Parts of her brain are being destroyed but she doesn’t know it. For Mom, there is nothing wrong with her memory.

I’m the oldest of three children and the one who lives nearest my mother so I’m the primary caretaker. I raised three children who are now young adults, working and starting families of their own. I’ve been married for 35 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling and I’m a certified Life Coach. I’ve worked with survivors of sexual abuse. I taught classes to police officers, teachers, counselors, and other helping professionals. I was a Bible Study Fellowship leader, Sunday school teacher, and small group leader. But nothing prepared me for walking this journey with my mom.

Often times I’m angry that this responsibility has fallen on me. My brother and sister are willing to help whenever I ask, but they are too far away to be involved in the day-to-day caretaking. When I leave town, I have to make sure she can get to the beauty shop. I pay her bills, keep up with her money, make sure her clothes are clean and meet whatever other need that arises. I resent that I’m the one who has to do this. There are times I think about just walking out and leaving it to the others to figure out. But I can’t. This is my mom and I want to honor her. Beyond the obvious physical proximity to her, I believe God has another reason this has fallen on me.

The other day she had an appointment with a new neurologist. I dreaded it. I didn’t know how she’d react. I wondered if she’d lash out at me in anger and refuse to go. I just didn’t want to do it. I tried to get out of it. I actually was hoping I wouldn’t be over my cold. But I was. I’d just finished the book “A Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Vosscamp. She believes that there is a gift from our Sovereign God in everything. So I asked Him “what is the gift in this disease called Alzheimer’s? What is the gift in my having to deal with my diseased mother and take her to the doctor today?” I thought I’d really stumped God on this one for sure.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). Off the couch I sprang to pick up my mother for that doctor’s appointment.

Later that day the Lord reminded me of my prayer to serve Him and my desire to serve His way, not my own. He answered my prayer. This was His way for me to serve Him. Serving Him His way was my second gift in Alzheimer’s.

About Diane Mayfield

Diane, a follower of Jesus, has a Bachelor of Journalism Degree, a Master’s Degree in Education with a specialty in counseling and is a Certified Coach. Married for 35 years and after raising three children, she returns to one of her first loves-writing.
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