Mom told me she says a prayer each night. It’s the last thing she does before going to sleep. It’s nothing fancy or long-winded. She simply says, “God, thank you for these blessings.”
Mom has said this prayer through much strife, including when she was Dad’s full-time caregiver as he struggled with growing dementia. On those lonely nights, that prayer may have felt hollow, as she listened for Dad getting up in the middle of the night to wander. During those long days and nights, there may have been more bleakness than blessings.
Family caregivers dealing with dementia may often feel alone and hopeless. Having to worry about someone 24/7 doesn’t leave much time for meditation or reflection.
Now Mom is struggling with her own health issues, but she continues her nightly prayer to try to keep things in perspective. For her, each day is a new struggle and a new opportunity.
Dad and I had very few one-on-one conversations with each other. My mom usually led the family discussions, and my dad would just kind of hang out in the background. Over the years, he learned to tune out my mom quite effectively! (Mom loves to talk and doesn’t necessarily seek feedback, so that’s why their relationship worked.)
Years ago, before Dad had dementia, I told my parents that I had tested as gluten intolerant and had to go on a gluten-free diet permanently. My mom had a ton of questions, but my dad didn’t have much of a reaction either way. Not a big deal, Mom was the cook of the family.
Years later, when Dad was at the moderate level of dementia, my mom gave me the following prayer request. It had been an extremely difficult day (which I will explain in another post) and my mom pulled this card out of her purse and quietly said, “I thought you would want this.”
It was one of those Catholic prayer request cards. Dad had filled it out, but never mailed it. I’m glad he didn’t. It’s a bit difficult to read, so here’s what it says:
“My daughter Joy who has an eating problem for several years now. She is restricted to a diet where she has to avoid wheat in her food. Under no circumstances can she eat food with wheat in it. Your prayers will be appreciated.”
Wow. I was blown away that Dad had been paying attention all those years ago. My mom and I shared a sad smile across the table as Dad sat next to us, oblivious to the emotions filling the room.