April 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Kathleen Brown –

My mother sits, obviously exhausted but still erect, on the brown hand-me-down sofa in my son’s apartment. He hasn’t come home from work yet. Thank goodness.

When we arrived in Colorado after a two-day trip from Texas, Mom was dozing in the back seat of the car. “We’re here! We’re at Mark’s house!” I sang out, certain she’d be happy to see him.

But I’m not sure she ever heard his name. “Where are we?” she asked. “What is this place? Take me home. Right now!” Her voice grew louder with each word.

As I parked, I discovered what panic tastes like.

Somehow, Dad coaxed Mom out of the car and into the apartment. Separately and together, we explained to her where we are. Her response was to kick off her shoes and begin shouting again. “Turn on the TV! Sit down and be quiet!”

The look on Dad’s face told me he’d been through this before so I followed his lead. Together, we obeyed. Silent and still, we sat like rabbits in a thicket waiting for the fox to pounce.

After half-an-hour, the full absurdity of the situation hit me. I motioned to Dad to follow me as I walked down the hall toward the bedroom. Simultaneously, Mom announced she was going outside. For a walk. In the early dark of autumn, barefoot, in a neighborhood strange to her. She insisted she was going, and going alone.

What happens next runs through my mind like a horror movie. Dad and I standing between Mom and the door. Her mouth open, yelling; her eyes wild; her hands beating at us. Dad breathing hard, grasping her shoulders, holding her at arm’s length. Me pleading, “Stop, Mom! Stop! That’s Dad!”

Dad eventually maneuvered her to the sofa. Her body still taut with rage, she fell into the cushions, landing slowly, clumsy, like a thrown log.

Now dead calm rules the room. I’m afraid to talk, afraid I’ll ignite Mom’s rage again. Dad sits in a worn leather recliner, looking at his knees. His face shows no surprise, only weariness.

Finally, Mom lays her head on the arm of the sofa. Soon she’s asleep. Thank You, Lord. Still Dad and I don’t talk. Lips set, hands limp in his lap, he won’t even look at me.

Is all this for real? It must be. No grown adult could feign that kind of tantrum. But my mother yelling at my father? Hitting him? This isn’t confusion; this is rage. Maybe she didn’t realize it was Dad?

Finally I must say in my mind the word that won’t be set aside any longer. Alzheimer’s. Is this Alzheimer’s?

When Mark walks in from work, Mom’s awake. Whatever tempest ravaged her earlier has been calmed for now. She’s smiling, calling Mark by name. My father’s face can scarcely contain his happiness.

So we eat. We laugh. Just for tonight, I pretend nothing happened.

I’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow. And I won’t be alone. I’ll have help. Infinite help.

God, my Father, I know it was Your power that stilled the storm in my mother’s mind. Your compassion gave us moments of peace and the comfort of familiar pleasures. Thank You, Father. I trust You to lead us forward, one day at a time, down this unknown road we travel. You know me, Lord. Don’t let me race ahead toward panic. Remind me to let You go first. I will follow wherever You lead.

About Kathleen Brown

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One Response to “Arriving”
  1. Dawn Wilson says:

    So powerful. My heart went out to you and to your dad especially. God bless you and encourage you all as you walk this detour with Jesus.

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