No-Regret Living

canstockphoto0381252Her steps alternate between a lost foot fall and a shuffle. We walked and talked and on occasion she would reach out and grab my arm for balance, even as she gripped the handrail on the other side. I was pleased that she ate a whole sandwich with relish. A show of appetite gives one hope.

She asked numerous times “Do you have time?” I cringed inwardly, thinking of the many times I dropped off groceries and medications, or scribbled out quick checks for her bills and dashed out the door onto the next task.

On her table, a little notepad is filled with times that she scrawled while on the phone with me. She asks me again what time I’m picking her up for her appointment and when is Halloween.

Time. All at once it is infinite and finite. She remembers moments as a girl in the small country school. She calls me someone else. Her mind is a slowly lapping wave, leaving a memory or a word or a moment along the shore, returning to the sea with less than what she brought. Moments threaded with anxious repetitive questions. Moments knotted, as she struggles to untangle thoughts and find words.

I get lost in sadness at times and then she comes back, joking and smiling and calling me by my name. I know to become present, because those moments matter. They won’t matter in a day or even moments from now. They won’t be remembered by her. But they matter here and now. She is happy, unafraid and at this very instant, in the company of someone who loves her – the kind of moments we often wish for and sometimes miss in a blink.

15 Comments on “No-Regret Living

    • Being present is a tough field to hoe. My mind is still scrambling in light of having time to slow down. I’m sure there is a period of adjustment, but with all the busy-ness came a high level of impatience!

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    • I think a lot of people have faced this situation and it’s just tough all around. I feel gratitude that not only did I realize what was happening, but that I’m in a position to make choices about how I spend my time.

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    • It will never seem enough, so I am trying really hard to be present for her and to slow down. Sometimes 10-15 minutes of conversation changes someone’s day. It seems so small, but so important.

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  1. Dad died in a kind of tortured dementia a couple years ago. I’m stopping in this moment to give thanks for whatever comfort you can extend. Please forgive, as I’m behind and somewhat sporadic in my reading. I sense this is your mother. Whoever it is, please know of my gratefulness for your loving care, regardless of what’s going on in your mind and gut. Peace and thanks, John

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    • I’m sorry to hear about your father, John. My mother-in-law is in the early, but progressing stages of dementia. She lives close to us, so I’m her daytime person. After reading quite a bit about the experiences of caregivers for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, I realized that much like that person’s emotions at any given time, it becomes all about the moments. It’s often devastating for families and I married into a family that has always been welcoming and kind to me. I feel like this is a way I can give back to her and to them.

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