It’s a morning with Mama. She’s tired today. This leaves me time to write, but I can’t help it. I watch her. Maybe it’s because she used to watch me. I know she taught me to watch where I was going, watch out for cars and strangers, to watch for details, and to watch over others.
Mama and I are watchers.
Something happens when she snoozes. Her Norwegian wrinkles (her description for them) are less noticeable. In the vulnerability and the innocence of sleep, she reminds me of the little girl I’ve only seen in pictures.
Watching her, I remember the way she watched me. When I was a teenager, the term “like a hawk” was perfect for Mama’s piercing and protective eyes. But today, it’s the tender watching that fills my mind. Mama watched her babies sleep. She also watched us as we got older – she’d tuck us in, but we knew she’d be back just before she went to bed herself. She used to tip-toe in (even on the carpet) to be sure we had our covers pulled up, and she’d stand there for a minute –watching. I know this because sometimes after a bad dream I’d still be awake and her presence was all it took to lull me back to sleep. I tried to breathe evenly so she wouldn’t know. My dreams upset both of us, and we needed our rest, so I usually kept them to myself. I couldn’t hide the ones that made me scream though. After she was sure I was okay, she’d step into my brother’s room for a minute. If she heard more than on a cough of a sneeze, she’d be back to check on us both.
She also watched us play when she could. In the way that Mamas do, she could tell our cries from the other children we played with. As we got older, she’d wait for us to come to her, but as little kids, our mama was a she-bear with mercy. You see; she watched other kids too and knew that if they were mean there was a reason – a sadness in them. Somehow she understood what they couldn’t say at first. She would get after them, but they’d be back on our porch the next day to play with us and confide in her.
The first time I drove away from home by myself in her car, I looked in the rearview mirror and there she was – quietly watching with a smile of triumph on her face – I’d done it. She watched me with my friends, with boys, and after I came to Christ. She watched me graduate, marry, and raise/release six raccoons. She watched me grieve not being able to have children and loving the children of others. She watched me dream of writing (that started with I was four) and watched me become a published author.
Today, it’s simply my turn. To watch over her while she sleeps. A time to remember, and thank God not only for what was, but also for what is.
Dementia is often a time of anxiety. We watch for symptoms she can’t tell us about. We watch for changes that mean we’ve turned yet another corner. We hope for positive changes that don’t come. But I have to tell you, God means what He says, and I trust Him. In this. In everything. Even now. Especially now.
In times like this, I am experiencing the peace of Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. John 14:27 (NIV)
Is it still hard? Yes. Very hard. But I have a peace that is not my own. And so does she.
She just woke up and told me a hot cup of coffee would be nice. She’s right. Have I mentioned lately I love my Mama and Me mornings?
Until Next Time,
(Note: When Mama was healthier, I asked her if I could record our journey and she said yes. She had only one request: that I wouldn’t show you any pictures of her in this stage of her life. I promised her I’d use pictures of nature that we both love. She thought that would be a very good idea. Unless otherwise noted, the photographs in these posts are mine, but because she taught me to love creation. they are hers too.)