“I was away for 10 days which leaves the daily needs of our parents with my sister, my brother and his wife, and my sister-in-law. Some days are easier than others.
The last two days I have taken lunch over to them and sat and ate with them. Today when I arrived, they were not in the living room. I called and Dad appeared from the bedroom and said, ‘Your mom’s been cleaning.’ He looked more exhausted than normal. I went into their bedroom and mom was trying to stand up from her wheelchair to reach a higher shelf in their built-in clothing cabinets. She grabbed a zippered pouch that had a few pair of winter gloves in them. She sat back down and was looking at them and asking what they were.
I looked and told her they were winter gloves. Blank stare. You know, gloves to wear when it’s cold outside. Nothing. I asked to look at them and said they can go on the top shelf, and she agreed.
She reached for something else. I wheeled her away as she was trying to reach for other things she believed should be ‘cleaned up.’ I told her we were going to have lunch together in the kitchen. The journey from their bedroom, through the living room and into the kitchen entailed me swerving back and forth to keep her from ‘cleaning up’ any object within reach.
We finally get to the kitchen table and their sandwiches are out and ready to eat. Then this happened. We grew up always saying a prayer before a meal as kids, and today was no different. Dad reached out for mom’s hand and mom reached for mine and we all start the prayer we have said thousands of times since I can remember.
I always have my phone with me ready to take photos when I visit with them because it helps me to capture their life, our life. I think this photo shows my dad’s exhaustion, and yet, it shows where his strength comes from. I was only there an hour, but it was an hour my dad needed more than we know.
I told mom cleaning is not fun and she should find something fun to do. I asked her if she wanted to do jumping jacks with me and she laughed. And when she laughed, my dad looked at her and was smiling. All he wants is for her to be happy. He is a saint!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono, 55, of Annville, Pennsylvania. She is chronicling her mother’s dementia journey in a series of posts for Love What Matters:
Family combats mom’s painful dementia journey with humor
‘They are two that have become one’: A day in the life of my mom’s dementia journey
‘It was my birthday when she no longer knew my name or who I was.’
‘His love for her is palpable’: Doting husband’s explicit instructions for wife with dementia’s morning routine
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