"The worse it gets, the easier it gets," is a caregiver's phrase I heard about six years ago. At the time, I could not wrap my head around it, no matter how many different angles I would look at it. This, mind you, was during a time when caring for Mom was at its height of difficulty.
I understand there are two sides to this phrase; one side has wisdom; the other side is full of schit. I'll start with the wisdom.
Mom and I are approaching our 11th year of living with her Alzheimer's, eight years since diagnosis. She still has her personality, her dignity, and sense of humor, but short-term memory is now immediate, and her long-term memory is washing away entirely.
She shuffles when she walks and walks very slowly while I hold her hand. She cannot drive; she does not cook. She prefers simple foods. She observes everything through the wonder of a child's eye - the blue of the sky, the new colors of automobiles, she touches a wildflower and sits quietly with curiosity. She has no concept of time, reads her books with no memory of its storyline, and she takes a lot of naps.
The wisdom in, "The worse it gets," is that Mom's decline has simplified her "self" as well as her overall life.
The wisdom in, "The easier it gets," means that my role as her caregiver has become simplified, much easier, and dare I say, more predictable.
Other caregiver’s say this is their experience as well.
What Is True For Me
It has been only in the last few years that I can say my time with Mom is relaxed, bittersweet, precious and even fun.
I am grateful she still knows me and knows the pups. I am thankful she still has a sense of humor with the greatest laugh on earth.
When this photograph was taken last summer at the cabin, I had tucked her and Frank in for nap-time. I turned to close the door, looked at the two of them and smiled. My heart swelled. I felt an enormous sense of gratitude. I was happy because our day was calm, easy and peaceful. I was happy because Mom is still teaching me that ordinary moments are sacred and not to be missed. She is a very wise little Buddha who is still teaching me to slow down, be, and just row-row-row our boat gently down our stream.
Tomorrow's post I will acknowledge how this quote is full of schit.