At the first of this year we were so exited about my mom spending Christmas, 2015 in Fairhope. We were eager to take her to light shows, parties, Christmas shopping, our Christmas Eve Service and sharing other special family traditions. Though she was diagnosed last January no one expected the disease to escalate at the pace it has chosen to.
Instead of what we planned mom spent the Christmas Holidays in a nursing home. We wanted to bring her home for 48 hours or at least for Christmas Day but her doctor urged us not to it. So we didn’t.
Christmas with Alzheimer’s is often confusing for the patient and depressing for the family but can also be funny, sweet or humorous. And maybe even remind you of the future hope that we have of complete healing in eternity.
Our Christmas Eve visit was difficult. When we told her it was Christmas Eve (yes she had forgotten even though we had talked about it the day before) she pleaded with me to take her home for Christmas. It was heartbreaking but I sucked it up until we got outside of the visiting room. I lost it when another sweet lady grabbed my hand and asked me if I would please take her home. Christmas with Alzheimer’s can be heartbreaking. It was yesterday for all of us.
We rushed home to get ready for the Christmas Eve service. It was a beautiful service but something about the music playing, the decorations and the lights reminded me of my mom in that stinking nursing home all alone and how much she had enjoyed going to church with us. All of a sudden I felt so emotional and it took everything within me not to run out. But I didn’t and we were so blessed at the service.
Friends had graciously invited us to a dinner party. It was great to be with special people and laugh together. Last night was indeed a gift.
Today was good at the nursing home. After our Christmas Brunch we took mom beautifully wrapped gifts. She told us she loved opening presents. We arrived to find her in the “dining room” with 6 others finishing lunch. We had a speaker with us and played Christmas music to the delight of the residents. My husband was kind enough to take his Bible and read the Christmas story to any residents who were interested in joining us. They all were. I was struck by how much they appreciated this simple gesture. More than one wiped teary eyes at hearing again how our Savior came to earth as a baby to bring the hope of salvation to all.
Never in my life have I seen anyone enjoy giving as much as my mom. To her delight we had some wrapped Mary Kay gifts for her to give other residents. I rolled mom in her wheel chair so she could give the presents out. The ladies (men got candy) who got a small fragrance were thrilled. Everyone was having a great time until I noticed one of the ladies had an empty fragrance bottle. Upon checking to see if it had spilled out I smelled her breath. Oh. My. Gosh. The lady had opened the bottle and swallowed ALL of it. Her eyes were watering and her face was turning red. A staff came in and after explaining what happened she said oh Mrs. Smith drinks everything. The only thought I had was that I had killed someone’s mother on Christmas Day. Long story short she is still alive as of an hour ago.
After that event we took mom to a private area to visit as my husband and boys laughed for the next hour wondering what the newspaper would say about a pastors wife murdering a woman with Alzheimer’s on Christmas Day.
Christmas with Alzheimer’s can bring a variety of emotions but the one we were most thankful for today is the future hope that awaits each of us who accept the living Christ into our hearts.