I wish I could say that I graciously accepted the fact of my mother’s dementia from the outset. But I didn’t. For a long time I resisted what was happening, measuring her life with a yardstick of loss. I found myself snapping impatiently when she asked me the same question yet again, or told me the same story for the umpteenth time. Then I would feel ashamed and berate myself for my lack of compassion. I was unaware then that her dementia would open up a space in which I would learn much deeper lessons about life than I had from our ‘sensible’ conversations. But first I had to stop resisting.
Life cycle lessons
Life’s equilibrium turned on its head:
Irritability, fear and dread,
As I watched my mother, the one who cares,
Losing her memory in her later years.
Facing mortality, witnessing loss
Of her capacity turning to dross,
I fought to resist it, not to move on,
But the pull of the cycle of life was too strong.
Far from the rational, certain and sure,
A land beyond logic was calling to her.
Fearless she stepped through the portal of grace,
Joining the elders whose love holds this space.
Week after week, the salve of her patience
Softened each one of my symptoms of fear.
I wrapped myself in the shawl of acceptance,
Knowing she’d gone before and would always be near