Ma Peak, as we have always called her, has dementia. This lovely lady actually lived alone until a few years ago; her husband died in 1994, the same year as my mother and Rick's mother - her only child. From that point on, she became our 'other child'. We brought her groceries, became her guardians, and took her to doctors' appointments until her mind began to fail and she became a danger to herself. A nursing home was the painful, only option. At first she struggled with this difficult decision of ours, but as her dementia worsened she became a resident in a world all her own. She knows certain things (and people) but the timeline is all wrong. Sometimes she is a young teen and speaks of her parents coming to get her. Other times she struggles with names and faces altogether. She shamelessly flirts, still loves anything pink, and remembers that Jesus loves her.
Some may wonder why we bother to keep up a regular stream of visits. After all, she really 'doesn't know anything'. The answer is simple - she knows she's happy when we're there. Whether or not she completely remembers our relationships or our children or her recent past, she finds joy in human contact. Much like an infant, she is dependent on others for everything. There are many similarities between oldsters and the very young:
- They can't care for themselves...their source for basic necessities lies solely in the hands of others.
- Their need for demonstrations of love is endless and innocent.
- Cognitive skills are few but they know when they're happy - and when they're not!
- We owe them all the love, care, and compassion we can muster.
- Our concern for them is part of the cycle of life.
Babies have their moral duties still ahead of them - in their future. It is our obligation as parents, to instill this responsibility in them. Oldsters, on the other hand, have 'done their time'. They have been that example to us. They have been there whether or not we thought we needed them. They have operated out of sheer love for our benefit.
I have a saying that I share with my children or siblings when they are living through one of life's hard knocks.
'All you need to remember is, be the best (fill in name) you can be!'
As we strive to be 'the best me' we can be, remember that aged and infant alike, rely on us. We are a part of their cycle of earthly life. May we all strive to bring compassion to everyone who is placed into our lives. Young or old, they deserve LOVE!