Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby Doll’s Doctor Visit

Mother had an appointment with her Podiatrist and I was rushing her out the door and into the car.  The wheelchair was in the trunk, and I got in the car put on my seat belt, and Mother asked, “Where’s the Baby?” 

“Uh… she’s sleeping in her bed.” 

I usually tell her that Linda, who lives across the street, will be coming over to watch the baby. That wasn’t working today, so I ran back into the house to get her baby doll.  I grabbed her by the arm, ran back to the car and carefully laid her in Mother’s lap. She was happy, and she talked to her little baby doll all the way to the doctor’s office.  I listened and smiled as I was driving. 

If you visit a nursing home you will see female Dementia patients holding baby dolls.  Medical studies have found it to be a soothing effective therapy for improving dementia and Alzheimer patients’ quality of life. It’s interesting that God gave women the nurturing gene, and that need to nurture someone or something (real babies, dogs and cats, or dolls), exist throughout our lives. Whether we are 9 or 90, we love to hold and cuddle something.  

We finally arrived at the Doctor’s office and I got the wheel chair out of the trunk. I rolled it around to Mother’s side of the car, and I gently picked up the baby doll and sat her in the back seat. I helped Mother into the wheelchair and quickly rolled her into the doctors’ office. 

On the way Mother made a strange comment that puzzled me. She said,   “Your picture is going to be the Newspaper.” 

“Why is my picture going to be in the Newspaper?”

“It’s against the law to leave a baby in the car. The police will be coming to arrest you.”

I laughed and said, “I’ve left you in the car before.”

“Yeah, but I’m older than a baby.”

As we were waiting in the exam room for the doctor, Mother had a meltdown.  After saying, “I’m worried about the baby” for the tenth time, I could tell this was going to be one of those broken records. 

Then she said, “What if someone steals her?” 


“What if she dies in the car?”

“Trust me!  She’s NOT going to die in the car!”

I’m really surprised you would do something like this.  I thought you were my friend.”

“Okay, okay!”  I’ll go get the baby! 

I left Mother in the exam room and ran out to the car to get the baby doll. I grabbed her as fast as I could and brought her to Mother. She was sitting in the exam chair and I gently laid her in Mother’s lap. Suddenly Mother was happy and satisfied, and she started talking to her baby. 

Dr. Jill walked in, looked at Mother and the baby doll, and said, “Which one is the patient?” 

“I am,” said Mother.

“Is this your baby?”


What’s her name?”

I thought, “I’m waiting to hear this too.”

There was a ten second pause then Mother said, “Baby.”

“Hey Baby.  It’s nice to meet you.”

Mother held her baby’s hand for Dr. Jill to shake.   Then Dr. Jill began clipping Mother’s toe-nails. I was sitting in my chair holding back the laughter.  (I’m thinking this is Blog material.) 

Then Mother said to her doll, “Do you see what she’s doing? 

I wondered if Mother was going to talk for her doll.  Thank goodness that didn’t happen. 

Dr. Jill said, “I like your matching outfits. Did you both plan on wearing pink? ”

“Yes." And she held up her baby to show off her outfit.

“Do you have other matching outfits?”

I don’t know.” 

I was laughing so hard that tears were in the corners of my eyes.

Dr. Jill stopped and said, “When I finish your toes, I’ll check Baby’s toes.”

Mother said, “Thank you.  That would be good.” 

When Dr. Jill finished Mother’s toes, she gently picked up Baby doll and checked each little toe and then she checked her pulse.

Mother was very quiet and focused as she watched Dr. Jill checking Baby doll.   When she finished, she said, “Everything looks good.” Then she carefully gave Baby doll back to Mother.

"Thank you for checking Baby’s toes. I think she likes you.  She’s smiling at you.” 

“I like her too.  Bring Baby the next time you come.”

As I was rolling Mother out, Dr. Jill whispered to me, “I can’t wait to tell my eight year old daughter about Baby doll’s doctor visit. She thinks my profession is boring.  This may change her mind.   

I chuckled all the way to the car, and I laugh every time I think about it. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It’s amazing how God gives us laughter.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, laughter is good medicine. I needed some good medicine and God supplied it in an amazing and creative way.  Care givers, try to laugh more and enjoy the journey.  It won’t last forever. 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Three Little ...."Prayer Requests"

I am so blessed to be part of a worldwide mission organization that reaches over 10 million children every year.  My objective is to find churches that will adopt and sponsor Good News Clubs at local public schools.  Every club that starts represents a miraculous work of God.  With over 250 clubs already underway in Georgia, it is exciting to see the difference in each little girl and boy.  I love my ministry ..........and I love taking care of Mother.  Lately, I have asked God to help me manage her as I begin a busy school year..... I guess you could say that was my FIRST prayer request.

Before the new school year started, I brought Mother along as I hit the trail for a 2-day VBS.  It was a western theme.  I got my western wear and put a cowboy hat on Mother.  She loved it.  The kids called her "Ms. Dot" and they made pictures with her.  I loved sharing Christ with all the kids.  We both had a wonderful time "on the range".

One of the mornings, I had a ministry appointment and I brought Mother with me.  I rolled her right into the secretary’s office and said, “I'm Carol Kohl and I have an appointment...........This is my Mom, Ms. Dot.”  The secretary looked at Mother and said, “My name is Dot too!”.  I proceeded to go into the Director's office.  Interestingly, she began to tell me that she had experienced a difficult morning with her Mom.

“You see, I'm the caregiver for my 90 year old Mom”, she said.

I chuckled.  "Well MY 90 year old Mom is sitting out there with your secretary right now.”  We both laughed.  She said, “I’d like to meet her!”  When we finished our meeting, she came out and talked to Mother. We had a lot in common. “FIRST request answered!”

Another morning, I had to be at a school at 7:30 in the morning for parent registration.  My neighbor came over to "mama sit".  I asked God to please let Mother sleep while I was gone.  Miraculously, she slept until noon!...(exactly when I returned).  She never knew I was gone!  FIRST request answered! 

Last Sunday was my birthday.  As I was getting Mother all dolled up for church I said, “Mother, today is my birthday.  I hope someone remembers..."  That was my SECOND prayer request.

She said, “How old are you?”

I told her and she said, “You’re OLD!” (Maybe I DON'T want anyone to remember...)

She said, “I going to write you a check for $13.00 dollars so you can buy anything you want!”

“ Mother, I have everything I want.” (What in the world could I possibly afford with $13.00 anyway?)

“You don’t want anything?”

“Actually yes.  I want some volunteers for the Good News Club.”  That was my THIRD prayer request.

“What’s that?”

“It’s something God wants.”

"Well if HE wants it, then you're gonna get it.”

We left early to go to this wonderful church to see if anyone might sign up to be a volunteer for a Good News Club.  We were there for three services.  In the middle of the third service, Mother said, “I’ve got to go.  I've already heard this story!”  You see, the pastor used the story of the The Three Little Pigs as an illustration about making wise choices in life.  Needless to say, after sitting in three services Mother wasn’t waiting one minute longer.  I was pushing Mother out the door as the Pastor was imitating puffing sounds for the wolf. It was a great message.

We got to the church lobby and Mother said “I’m ready to leave right now.”

“We can’t go”


“’Someone might sign up to be a volunteer for the Good News Club at the end of the service!”

“Well I’m sorry about your volunteers, but I’ve got to go. My Mama will be worried about me.”

“Your Mother knows where you are, and we’re not going until I’m finished.....  And I’m NOT finished.”

"Well, I’M finished!”  She then proceeded to the glass doors and began knocking for someone to help her.  I’m standing at my display (as if nothing is going on) talking to people.  All of a sudden, my sweet friend comes walking up.  “Peg, what are you doing here?” I figured she was there to help me recruit or something.

“No.” she said.  “I’m here because it’s your birthday and I want to take you out to lunch to celebrate!” (SECOND prayer request answered.)
Meanwhile, Mother was in her wheelchair rolling from person to person asking if they would be able to take her home.  I just kept on talking to people as if nothing was going on.   In the end, God was good.  He gave us more volunteers for the Good News Club.  It was my birthday present from God. (THIRD request answered).    He answered ALL three prayer requests. I guess Mother was was what He wanted...and I wanted what He wanted.

After a wonderful birthday lunch with my Mom, my sister Ann, and Peg, (my friend and prayer partner), we came home.  Mother was worried about her Mama.  I told her that I had talked to her "Mama" and that she was happy "that you are staying with me".  Mother seemed content for the moment as she watched the birds eating seeds from the bird feeder.  "Have you ever noticed how God always takes care of the birds?"  It seemed off the subject, yet poignant.

My two sweet daughters called to wish me a Happy Birthday and I talked to my precious granddaughter Katie.  Later I sat down at my computer to check for messages. I noticed at the bottom of the page it showed I had 31 messages.  My first thought was a computer virus, but it wasn’t a virus at all!  It was a slew of birthday messages. They continued to pour in all day, and some the next birthday wish after another.  66 messages in all! This has never happened before.  It was a big bouquet of flowers from God.  I loved reading each one from my sweet family and my dear friends I have known over the years. 

It’s amazing how we have friends at different times in our lives and even though we haven’t talked in years  All it takes is one contact and your mind takes you back to where you left off.  Some messages were funny.  Others brought tears to my eyes.  For a moment, I had a longing to go back in time.  God certainly has a sense of humor. 

He’s walking with me every day and He is taking care of my Mom and my ministry.  How about you, dear caregiver?  Ask Him to help you one day at a time. He's waiting to help you with your loved one.  He loves you and He knows your heart and feels your pain.  Give Him your day and let Him take care of every detail of your life.

My grandmother’s favorite song was “In the Garden.”  I remember her singing it while she was cooking, when we were sitting in the swing on the front porch, and when we were walking to town.  Mother worked, and my Dad was in the armed forces in Japan.  My sweet grandmother took care of me and she would start humming the verse and then she would sing the chorus.    

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there, 
None over has ever known. 

“ The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…” Hebrews 13:5b

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Language of Love

“The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day…”

That song kept coming to my mind as Mother continued to ask, “Where is that little girl?”

My daughter and my ten year old granddaughter had left to go back to Arizona.  Mother knew someone was missing. When they were here, she felt all was well with the world.  Children are truly a gift from God.  Katie was a gift to me, but she was especially a gift to Mother this week.  She was comforted by Katie’s presence. 

Studies have shown that Dementia patients respond very positive to little children and animals. Adult care facilities and nursing homes have special days when dogs visit the patients, or when children come in and sing to them.  I witnessed Mother’s positive response to Katie’s visit.

Mother continued to ask, “Where is that little girl?”

“Katie’s back in Arizona. I miss her too” 

The moment my little granddaughter came, she brought with her a kind word, a gentle touch, and a caring that reached her great-grandmother’s heart with the ease of a dove in flight. Mother and Katie joined hands and immediately communicated in an unspoken  Deep down in her heart, Mother knew this little girl was someone special to her.

These two souls had a wonderful time.  Katie took over as Mother’s assistant.  From breakfast to the end of Mother’s day, she was there.  Without a word spoken, Mother had the full attention of three people. My daughter, granddaughter and I were all at her beckoned call.  But Katie was Mother’s choice. 

Katie got up on Atlanta time (that's early for her!!!) to warm Mother’s apple-bran muffin for breakfast.  She held Mother’s hand to help her to the car, pushed her in the wheelchair, and maintained a careful watch wherever Mother was changing course. 

Katie would call, “Grandma, Mama Shockley is getting up to go somewhere!” 

No matter where Mother wanted to go, Katie was right there gently holding her hand.

After getting Mother in to her bed, we would kneel on the floor beside her.  Katie got in to the bed with Mother and snuggled up close to her great-grandmother so she could pray next to her.  It was a sweet time of prayer.  Amazingly, Mother’s prayers are still spoken with such clarity- undeniable proof that the soul is eternal. 

After prayers, Mother would ask with the plea of a little child, “Katie will you sleep with me?”   

“Mama Shockley, I’ll lie here until you go to sleep.”


Mother would soon be fast asleep.  Katie would slip out and go upstairs to bed. 

On the last day, we drove to my brother's house for our traditional summer birthday parties. We all have July/August birthdays.  Even Katie's birthday is in August!  It was our last summer fling.  On the way, we stopped by a peach orchard so that Katie could pick some peaches. We made pictures and she loved the experience. 

My brother grilled hamburgers and his wife made all the trimmings.   Katie played in the rain (something rare in Arizona) and gave some attention to Punky the cat.  Then we drove out to show Katie the oldest covered bridge in Georgia.  We had a wonderful time spotting deer as Katie waded in the creek. Oh to have all that energy!  Why can’t we bottle it up and save it for later?  

It was time to go home and it was getting dark.  The sun was setting fast.  I was starting to wonder when the craziness would begin.  We had almost a two  hour road trip ahead of us.  Mother would likely be out of her mind with worry....the whole way home.

Dottie and Ann were in the front seat.  Katie and I sat on either side of Mother in the back.  We were all laughing and discussing everything we did that day.  

Then Mother started piping in. 

“Are we there yet?”

“Almost”, Ann replied.

“How much longer?”

“Not long.”

“Do you know the way?”


“Are you sure?”


"How much longer?"

“Not long.”

"We all need to stop talking because we're lost!”

“We're not lost.  We'll be home soon.”

“Are we there yet?”


Her anxieties were rising.  

Then it happened. 

Katie reached over and held Mother’s hand and gently said, “It’s okay, Mama Shockley.” Then she laid her head on Mother’s shoulder.  I watched Mother’s anxieties melt like snow when the sun comes out. She slowly laid her head back on Katie...and fell asleep. You heard me!  Asleep!  It was as if God poured His peace and love into the top of Mother’s head. Katie and Mother were both sleeping.

Tears filled my eyes as I watched this amazing scene.  Ann was watching in the rear view mirror and Dottie turned to see a memory that would last a lifetime. Mother was sleeping like a newborn baby...... and she slept all the way home! 

Love can build a bridge, calm a storm, and touch a heart that’s empty.  It’s a little word that has the power of a rocket. What is the origin?  GOD!  Love came straight from the heart of our loving heavenly Father when He gave His Son Jesus to die for the sins of the world.  Jesus became one of us in order to show us God’s heart.  He knows your needs, He feels your pain, and He walks beside you.  He loves you and your loved ones....and He knows and cares about all of your struggles, dear caregivers.

God used my little granddaughter to remind me of God’s perfect love for me and my mom, tomorrow, and forever.

“For God so loved the world that He gave HIS one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Death by Vitamins

It was a wonderful day.  My daughter and granddaughter were visiting from Arizona and we had a big day planned- the Varsity and Atlanta Zoo.  Katie specifically wanted to see the gorillas.

I remember when I was a young girl. Our family visited the Atlanta Zoo to see the famous "Willie B." He was the main attraction. I would line up for the primates building hoping the star of the zoo would be inside his cage so I could make a picture.  On one occasion he was very funny sitting on a tire swing eating a banana, swinging back and forth watching everyone looking at him.  I’m not sure who was most entertained him or us!

It’s been years since my last visit to the zoo. Of course, as a grandparent, I'd do anything for my darling granddaughter- this includes the urgent business of smelly animals.  So... I was up early getting ready for the day.  Our special guests were on west coast time (THREE hours earlier) which meant they were still sleeping in our upstairs loft.  I was trying to be as quiet as a mouse.

Mother woke up and came out for breakfast. 

I quietly prepared Mother’s apple-bran muffin with peaches and a glass of milk. 

I said the blessing very softly (I didn’t want to wake them).

After she had sat staring for a while I whispered, “Mother, eat your breakfast so we can get ready.”

She looked at me and said, “What? I can’t hear you!”

I whispered a little louder, “Eat your breakfast.  We need to get ready to go.”

She slowly began eating her breakfast.  Then she looked around the room.

“Where are they?”

“Up there.”  I pointed to the upstairs.

“We have an upstairs?!!!”


“What’s up there???”

"Everything they need.  Just please eat your breakfast so we can go to the Zoo.”

“The ZOO?!?”, she yelled.

“Yes!  You know the place you can see the lions, elephants, gorillas and all the animals God made.”

“Why are we going there????”

“Because Katie has never seen gorillas up close and personal and she’s interested in Zoology." 

“What’s that?”

“Mother, don’t worry about it."  I whispered in her ear, "Eat your muffin.”

 “WHAT???? I can’t hear you!”  She looked at me like I was crazy.

I looked at her and made a gesture like I was eating. (....imaginary spoon going to my mouth)

“WHAT are you doing???”, she said loudly.

“I’m trying to show you how to eat your breakfast!”


“We can’t go until you, EAT YOUR BREAKFAST!!”, I shouted (in a whisper).

Mother finally finished her muffin and I removed her bowl.  Next was a cup of prune juice.  I call it her fruit coffee.  I can’t put everything on the table at once because it’s too confusing.  Next her pills took "center stage".  I put all ten of them in a little glass bowl with a glass of water. 

“Take your pills and you’ll be ready to go.”

"That's too many pills."

“No it’s not!  You take ten pills every day.”

“This is more than ten pills!  This looks like a hundred.  This could kill me.”

“Mother, don’t be ridiculous.  Take your pills!”  (Whispering over.) 

I had to make sure she took those pills.  Lately strange things have been happening. I find pills on the floor that she has "dropped". So I constantly check for "runaways". One day, she poured her glass of water into the bowl of pills and all the pills turned into little water colors.  She was stirring all the pills with her finger.  I wasn’t sure whether she should drink all ten at once or throw them into the sink and start over.  Another time she had one pill on her tongue for hours.  She said she didn’t know what to do with it.  She suddenly took it out of her month and gave it to me. I looked with horror at the stubborn little vitamin that had been hiding in her mouth for who knows how long. Ugh.

At this point, I decided to employee a "method".  I took a few pills in my hand and said, “Open your mouth and swallow just these three pills.”

“I told you, I’m not taking those pills!!!  I’ll die!”

“You’ll die if you DON'T take the pills!”

“Mother, these pills are keeping you alive!”

“No they’re not!”

“Yes they are!” 

Thank goodness, my sweet granddaughter came down the stairs.  Now I had reinforcements. 

“Good Morning Mama Shockley!”

Mother smiled broadly and they hugged.

“Katie, Mother won’t take her pills."

“Those pills will kill me.”

“No Mama Shockley.  They are "little helpers" that will keep you alive!”

Mother looked at the pills and said, “They don’t look like 'helpers' to me.”

“Katie, will you be a witness if I die.”

This is what Mother actually takes.

This is what Mother sees (I think).

“Yes Mama Shockley.  I’ll be a witness.”

Slowly...very slowly.... Mother started taking her pills- one at a time.  Her hand trembled as she picked up each pill.  You'd think each pill weighed about fifty pounds.  Finally.... the last pill was "down the hatch".

“Mother, open your mouth. I want to make sure nothing is hiding."

She opened her mouth.  The house was empty.   

An hour later she was still alive and we were on our way to the Varsity to have a chili dog and onion rings.  (Now that WILL kill you!)

Later that night I was thinking how Mother didn’t trust me with her pills. Didn’t she know that I’m her caregiver? I love her and I would only do what’s best for her.  If she can’t trust me, who can she trust?  Then God reminded me of the times that I haven’t trusted Him to take care of me.  He’s my Caregiver and He loves me and He always does what’s best for me. If I can’t trust God who can I trust? 

How about you, dear caregiver? Are you trusting your Heavenly Father to take care of you as you care for someone else?  He will guide you and care for you each day.  Trust Him and take one day at a time.  

Thanks for joining me on my journey. We need each other for encouragement.  I LOVE reading your comments!

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143: 8.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Medicine

Sometimes, single moms get sick and have to go to the doctor.  Their kids have to accompany them into the examination room.  A few days ago I needed to make a visit and I had to take my mother along. I wheeled her in the waiting room where we waited and waited.....and waited...and waited.  Then we were finally escorted into the inner sanctum!...the examination room!...where we waited and waited....and waited...and waited.  Mother was becoming tired...and bored. 

When we first entered the examination room, Mother looked around.

“Why are we here?”

“I have a cough.”

“I have a cough too.”

“Not like me, Mother.”

“Why are you coughing?”

“I don’t know.  That’s why I’m here."

The doctor finally came in… "Which one of you is the patient?”

Mother looked at the doctor and said… “She is.”

“Yes Doctor, I’m the patient.”, I said. 

“What seems to be the problem?”

“I’m coughing.”

Mother interrupted, “I’m coughing too.”

“Mother, you’re not coughing like me. My cough is serious!”

“My cough might be serious too!”

The doctor said, “Let me see one patient at a time please.”

Mother said, “Okay.”

The doctor took all my vitals and then asked, “Could you cough for me?".

I coughed.  Then Mother coughed twice.

"Mother you don’t need to cough.  The Doctor wants to listen to my cough to see if it's serious.”

I coughed and the doctor said…”Hmmm...This sounds serious.”

Then she looked at Mother and said… “Let me hear you cough.” 

Mother coughed and the doctor said…”That’s not a serious cough.”

“What kind of a cough is it?”

 “That’s actually a good cough.”

Mother said… “That’s funny.” And she laughed.

Then the doctor asked me to stick out my tongue and say "Aah".

I said, “Please don’t use that tongue suppressor because it makes me gag. I’ll just stick out my tongue.”  I proceeded to stick out my tongue and say "Aah" really loud.

Mother started laughing so hard tears were coming out of her eyes.

“Mother, what in the world is so funny?”  She can’t talk for laughing.

After some tests, the doctor came back into the room and said, “You have bronchitis".  Then, the nurse came in the room and said…"I have two shots for you". 

“WHAT??!!  You have TWO shots!?!  I HATE shots!!  Is this absolutely necessary?” 

“YES!  In order to fight this infection we need to be aggressive." 

Mother is now laughing even harder.  At first, I didn't find ANY humor in this.  However, I have not seen her laugh that much in a long time.  I started laughing at her laughing at me. 

I got my prescription and we left. We laughed all the way to the car. When we got in the car, I asked, “Just out of curiosity, what was so funny?” 

“You looked funny sticking out your tongue to say 'Aah'… and getting your shots!" 

“Are you saying it was funny that I was the patient and not you?” 


Who could have imagined that a doctor’s visit could bring unexpected laughter?  You never know where laughter is waiting to bloom.  I thank God for moments like that, because patients with Dementia sometimes go weeks without laughing.

Laughter is good for the soul.  It occurred to me that the very best medicine we both received was a huge dose of laughter.  Mother got a "shot" of laughter and I got three "shots" – antibiotics, steroids and laughter.  In Proverbs 17:22 it says… “A happy heart is good medicine."  Caregivers I hope you and your loved ones can find things to laugh about along your journey.  It’s good medicine. 

By the way, I’m feeling better.  I love reading your comments.  Keep them coming!!!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smell the Flowers

Mother is yelling at me from the other room...

"My clock is slowing down. I can’t tell the time!!”

I don't understand what's wrong.  I just changed the batteries.

Mother lives in a world that is slowing down.  Mine seems to be speeding up.  She walks slower.  Eats slower.  Talks slower.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to go in slow motion while the world is flying by.

We were coming out of Walmart.  I was quickly pushing Mother towards the car.

“Look there’s a little flower.”


“Right there!!!!”  (She’s pointing.)

I stopped the wheelchair, locked the brakes, and reached down to slowly uproot the little yellow flower from its unlikely home and presented it to my Mother. Some unsuspecting little bird had dropped a seed into a tiny little crack in the pavement.  God gave the rain and the sun and this little creation had somehow survived.  That tiny little flower had been grown specifically for my Mother.

“Here is your little flower.”

“It smells so sweet. Would you like to smell it?”

“It does smell sweet.”  I laid it down in the car.  Mother immediately picked it up.  She held it all the way home.  Later, I found the flower in her desk drawer, wilted and dead.

The back of our house faces a common area that's filled with beautiful flowers.  After Mother is ready for the day and she’s had her favorite breakfast, she'll sit and admire the flowers.  She yells from the porch.

“Come out here and look at the beautiful flowers!”

“In a minute.” ( I have about 200 things to do..)

“Come out here and look at all the beautiful flowers!!!  Isn’t God good to give us so many flowers to enjoy?”

“Yes, Mother.  He is good all the time.” (Hardly hearing her...)

“Where are you????”

“I’m in my office...working.”

“What are you doing???”

“I’m working on my ministry.”

“Why don’t you come out here and look at the flowers?”

“I’ll be there in a second.....  I’m almost finished.”

“You’re missing the flowers growing!!!”

“You can’t SEE flowers growing, Mother!”

“You can if you sit still!!!!”

“I’ll be there in a second!"

Finally I'm finished.  When I walk out on to the porch, Mother is asleep.

“I should have stopped sooner.”  Why can't I slow ALL the clocks down...everywhere? 

Lately God has been teaching me to look for little flowers growing in cracks- to watch them grow.  Even though my life is moving at warp speed, I’m trying to slow down.  Because life is fleeting.  One of Mother’s friends in her Sunday school class recently went home to be with God.  Her earthly clock finally came to a stop.  Last Sunday, Mother asked her teacher, “Where are all our members?”

Her teacher said, “They’re home.”

Mother said, “I miss them.”

Her teacher said, “Me too.”

Our lives are like a vapor.  Scientists tell us that a vapor will disperse within seconds. James 4:14 says…What is life?  It is a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes....within seconds.  In view of eternity, we are on this earth for a mere "second".  What you do with those "seconds" is entirely up to you.  Right now, I'm going to go and sit on the porch with my mom...and watch the little flowers grow.....and say "I Love You" right out loud;)

Monday, July 11, 2011

"I miss you, Mama."

I was trying to get Mother ready for bed, but she was not cooperating.  She was very upset.

“My Mama doesn’t know where I am and I know she is worried.” 

“Mother, it’s okay.  Let’s get ready for bed”. 

“I’ve got to go home!”

“Why Mother?”

“I’m in trouble!  My mama doesn't know I'm at your house!  I’ll pay you any amount of money if you’ll take me home!”

“Mother you don’t need to pay me.”

“I’ll write you a check tomorrow.”  

"Do you want me to call your Mama?"   

"Please!  Call her.  Please!!"  

"Okay.  I’ll dial her number and you can talk to her." ....(I dialed myself.)

"Hello Mama?"

"Hi Honey!  Where are you?" 

"Mama, I told my friend that I needed to go home, but she begged and begged me to spend the night and I don’t know what to do."

"Well is this one of your best friends?"


"Will this friend take care of you should you need anything?"

"Yes, Mama!  You'd love her if you met her!  She's reminds me of you!  But Mama, I miss you!  Can't you just come get me?"

"Honey, it’s too late for me to come and get you.  But you have my picture.  Put it right next to your bed while you sleep.  I'll be with you always, my dear.  You are my sweet girl.  But right now you need to get some rest because tomorrow is Sunday and you will be getting all dolled up for church!"  

"Okay.  I love you.  I miss you, Mama."

"I love you too.  Goodbye Dorothy.  Remember, I love you always and forever."

(I'm crying as I hang up the phone.  I miss my mom, too.)

One day..."He will wipe every tear from my eyes.  There will no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away." Revelation 21:4

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Forget About the the Puppies!

"I don't care what happens to the puppies!  I'm going home!"

I was relaxing on the sofa.  Mother was in her chair.  We were watching the cutest movie...102 Dalmatians.  All was well with the world.

Then it happened.

She abruptly got up out of her chair.  “I need to go home and take a bath.”

(Huh???)  “Look Mother, this is a dog movie! You love little puppies! Do you think the little puppies will be rescued?”

“I don’t know",  she mumbled (apathetically shrugging).

She was way too focused on going home to worry about what catastrophe might befall a bunch of puppies.  I sensed a "broken record" coming on.

“I need to go home and take a bath RIGHT NOW!!!”

“Mother, look at me!  You had a shower this morning!  You don’t need to take a bath!"  I'm now yelling to her in the other room...."Come back in and watch this movie!!!!  You’ll like all the little puppies!!" (Also, it’s almost over....and I would like to see the end if you don't mind.)

Things got quiet, so I presumed she was off the broken record.  I could hear her opening drawers, but it didn’t concern me.  She was probably paying her "imaginary bills".  (Don’t you wish bills were imaginary?)  Years ago, she was the finance manager for my Dad’s business and our family. When she came to live with me, I found her a small desk with some shelves on top.  In an effort to occupy her time, I gathered some old bills and had her start "paying" them.  She has spent MANY hours looking at old bills and writing imaginary checks. She still has her old ledger from when she managed my Dad’s business. I went to GREAT lengths to make everything as legitimate as possible.

By now, the movie had reached a critical point.  The puppies were in jeopardy!  Would they escape?  I couldn't turn it off now!   I decided to ignore the drawer noises and watch the end-only 10 minutes left!!

Right when I was about to find out how the adorable puppies would escape from the evil villain, Mother appeared...and stepped right in front of the television!  It's hard to describe what I saw.  She was standing in front of me dressed in long johns and an under shirt (think 90 year old super hero).  Her little skinny legs were standing firm. All she needed was a cape and an M on her shirt.  She was holding a blanket, (she referred to as her towel), a shirt to change in to, a bar of soap, and a few other things she thought she might need (like her Bible) rubber ducky.  It was a Kodak moment!  I tried to conceal my laughter, but tears were coming in my eyes.   

“This is NOT funny!  I need to go home and take a bath....RIGHT NOW!"

“I’m just laughing at the movie. Why don’t you sit down and watch it with me?”

“I SAID....I’m going home to take a bath!  If you’re not coming with me, I’ll just go by myself!!!”

Now that WOULD have been a Kodak moment (for the neighbors, that is).

This was one of those "broken records".  When it happens, I’ve noticed she gets anxious and she has a lot of energy.  She is usually so fragile..... until she gets focused on something. Then, it’s like she becomes a little super hero.  She forgets about her physical limitations. Years ago, my Dad used to say, “It’s all in your head".  What he meant was a person's thinking can change their direction.  I’ve thought about his words for years, and he was right. The Bible tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7  

Well it was definitely "in her head" to go home (once again).  She was standing at the front door.  The bells on the doorknob were going off like crazy.  There was no changing her mind.  She meant to leave. 

I gathered her stuff, helped her put on her housecoat, and sat her in the wheelchair.  We started "looking" for her house so she could take a bath.  We went up the street and down the street, then back up the street.  I was actually enjoying the walk.  Most of my neighbors were inside because it was still a little too hot to walk.  We did see one couple.  Mother called out to them to help us.  But thank goodness they didn’t speak English.  They couldn’t understand what she was talking about.  I wanted to say, “Don’t feel bad. I speak English and I can’t understand what she’s talking about either." 

As we passed by our house for the third time she exclaimed, “I think that’s my house!" 

“Praise God!”  I thought. I pushed her up the driveway and said, “Mother, let’s sit on the porch before you have a bath and enjoy the evening.”


Then she began to tell me how easy it is to find her house. 

“Anybody with any BRAINS would know how to find it! It’s the only house with three tall green things in the front yard.”

"Three tall green things?"  I asked (filled with curiosity..).

“The three tall green things right over there!” 

“Those?” (I pointed.)

“Yes!!! Those!!”

She was pointing directly at the Bell South distribution panels for underground cable connections (every third house on the street has this).  I’m certainly learning a lot about what makes our house "special".

Mother continued…”This is the only house with a little tree in the front yard, two rocking chairs on the front porch, and three tall green things in the front yard."  (By now I’m repeating the words with her.) 

“I’ve got to get you ready for bed (no bath) because tomorrow WE’RE GOING TO GRIFFIN for July 4th to see your son and his wife!”

Mother smiled the biggest smile.

I sometimes wonder how God sees us.  We dress in our "super human" costume and announce all of our fantastic plans.  However, instead of laughing at us, God lovingly walks around the block with us.  He knows exactly where we need to be.  Yet He'll wander around aimlessly with us if that's what it takes to bring us back home.  Is God following you "around the block"?  What are you searching for?   

Let God bring you back home.

God helped Mother to get past her "broken record" once again.  I hope all you caregivers are finding laughter in your journey and not frustration.  Remember what my Dad used to say, “It’s all in your head. Your thinking can change your direction.”

I still don't know what happened to those puppies!  I'm sure they got rescued.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

P.S.  Thanks to everyone for the comments!  Keep 'em coming!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011


They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow 
weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31NIV

Mother’s hand reaches for mine.  I take her hand to guide her and protect her from falling.  Her other hand is tightly grasping the object behind her.

She won’t let go.

I say, “Mother let go of the door knob."

She won’t let go.

I pry her hand away from the tight grip so she can move forward. 

For one moment in time she is caught between letting go of what’s behind and reaching out for what is ahead.  Dementia patients are trapped in this "mysterious middle".  They can’t retain what they see and hear in the present.  And their past, that which is most familiar, is also unclear.  It’s been said that Dementia is like a movie reel going backward.  I often wonder what it must be like.

Mother’s childlike personality is now who she is.  There is, however, one positive element that is sometimes overlooked.  We are a trinity.  We have a mind, body, and spirit and for the elderly, the spirit becomes the most critical and glorious part of this equation.  When the mind and body have aged, the spirit takes over and provides hope and strength to the person who seemingly has nothing left.

The Spirit gives us hope and strength ...not only to keep going....but to SOAR above it all.  The Bible says… “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12.    

I have seen people literally die because they lose hope.  I visited a man in the hospital.  His family was very concerned.  He wanted to die.  When I went to see him, I asked him if he had lost his hope.  

He said, “Yes.” 

I asked why.  I began to talk to him about his children and grandchildren.  Didn’t he want to see them grow up, and be there for graduations, weddings and great grandchildren?

I said, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength."  A few days later he was recovering, and was going home from the hospital. 

Later I asked him, “What happened?  What turned things around for you?”

He said, “I realized that I had God and my family to live for." 

People put their hope in many things.  Mother’s hope is in God.  Her face lights up when she hears a Bible verse, prays, or sings a hymn.  Her spirit gives her a calm assurance that one day she will be a resident of heaven. 

Mother became a Christian when she was twenty-two.  She fell in love with Christ, and her life was never the same.  She had a passion for His word and shared the Gospel with not only her children, but every member of her family. That passion for God's word still lies deep within her spirit and it’s renewing her strength and hope.  It gives her frail body wings.

She can still quote Psalm 23 and Psalm 100.  She still prays with me before she goes to sleep at night, and she still enjoys reading the Bible and going to church.  She loves her sunday school class and listens to the pastor’s sermon. 

For many years, Mother led a Bible study at a nursing home in her home town.  She would tell me about one lady who had Alzheimer’s.   She played the piano for everyone to sing.  Mother would start singing a song and this lady would play with all her heart..  Everyone came to listen.  Her spirit was free of the disease.  Another man suffered from dementia.  He had been a music minister for many years.  When he led the singing, I'm sure the music reached Heaven’s throne.  Everyone was amazed. One man had been a pastor for 40 years. No one could explain why, but everyone loved talking to him every day.  They would comment that he encouraged each person who would come by and talk. 

Can you explain it?  I don’t think it can be explained because science can’t dissect the spirit of a person.  We underestimate the lasting spiritual fortitude eternal hope brings into our lives.  For Christians, true hope lies where love and loss intersect.

Last night, Mother slipped and fell on her hip.  This time, I ran to a new neighbor to ask for help.  I figured it was a great way to get to know another neighbor.  She followed me to the house, and the two of us lifted Mother back into her chair.  Thank God, Mother was okay.  Afterwards, we were talking to our new neighbor.  She told us that she'd moved here from another state because of her job.  She said she was sad that she had to leave her friends. 

Mother quickly said, “I’ll be your first friend!”

My neighbor smiled and said, “Aren’t you sweet!”  I’m glad you are my first friend!”

I thanked her and when she left I was amazed.  Mother’s body is frail, her mind is confused.  Yet from her spirit flows love and kindness!  It was just what my new neighbor needed.

I got Mother in bed and we prayed.  "Tomorrow is Sunday.  You need to get to sleep because I have to get you all dolled up for church."

She said, “I want to get all dolled up!” 

Then she said, “Now tell me what you always say.....”

“I love you.”

"I love you too." 

I was sad that I wasn’t there to catch her when she fell, but God is always there and He gave her a gentle landing. She was in no pain. (No Tylenol tonight.)  

What about you???  What are you hoping for?  Are you living day by day?.....  or are you soaring?
"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31NIV

P.S.  Are you out there???  Hello!!  If you're reading my blog...and laughing, crying (or anything in between) PLEASE post a comment!  Your comments are welcome...and encouraging for me.  Give me a "shout out"!!!  Happy 4th of July!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

"I'm not eating that!"

"I'm not eating THAT!"

I have found that wherever I go, people are kind and helpful; opening doors, saying nice things, smiling, and allowing us to go first on elevators etc. (I’m acquainted with every elevator and bathroom in every single store.)  Because Mother is in a wheelchair, I often share the elevator with other Moms and their young ones.

I'll smile and say, ‘The circle of life.”.... 

The mom looks down at her child, smiles and says, “Are you going to take care of Mommy like that kind lady is taking care of her mommy?”.  The child will look at my Mom, they'll exchange smiles and we go our separate ways.   

I have come to realize that I'm an older single Mom. I can relate to single Moms in many ways:  strollers/wheelchairs, diapers/depends, milk bottles/water bottles, little fishes/little fishes, change of clothes/change of clothes, teeth come out/teeth come out, daycare/daycare, afraid of the dark/afraid of the dark, limited vocabulary/limited vocabulary, needs attention/needs attention. I could go on and on.    

My mother goes to Sarah Care, a wonderful adult day care facility!  They pick her up and bring her home in a van.  They provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks, plus activities AND supervision!  This gives me time to go on appointments for my ministry. She goes to Sarah Care a few days a month. 

As I help her on the van, I notice a childlike fear on her face.  I can read her mind.  She's thinking, "What if I never see my mommy again?".  I assure her that I will be waiting for her "after school". 

I always step onto the van and I ask the same question I have been asking for the past few years. 

“Who knows what day it is?”  The new ones say the date, but the ones who have been coming say this Bible verse with me. 

 “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  When Mother hears that verse she smiles a happy smile.  I tell her to have fun and I wave goodbye. 

When Mother first started going a few years ago, she thought it was a job. 

She would say, " I have to go to work." 

Then one day she asked why they didn’t pay her.  I told them that WE paid THEM. 

She said, “Then, I’m not working THERE anymore!” After that revelation she started talking about going to school. Yesterday she wanted to know what grade she was in.

 I said, “ A big grade.”

The other day when they brought her home at 3:00, she had a big smile on her face. She was very glad to see me.  I got her settled and she tried to tell me what she did all day.  (Now I'M the one asking 21 questions..)

“So Mother, how was your day?”

“Uhhhh...” (brows go up, shoulders shrug up, and she tilts her head. )

“So, it sounds like you had a great day. What did you have for lunch?”  

She thought about it. "Uhhhhh..."(brows go up, shoulders shrug up, and she tilts her head.)  

“So, you really enjoyed your lunch. You must have had something green.”

“How would YOU know?”

“It’s still  in your teeth.  Are you hungry?”

“Uh.....” (brows go up and head tilts.)

“Okay, let’s see what we have.... (open refrigerator). Would you like some ice cream?”

“Yes!”  A big smile came over her face and she enjoyed a big bowl of her favorite dessert.

Dinner was interesting.  I put her bib on, and she sat down.  I put her dinner in front of her.

She immediately said, “What is THIS?"

“String beans, squash and corn bread.”

“I don’t like it.”

“You USED to love it.”

“Well, I don’t like it anymore.”

“Okay, just eat a few bites.”

I walked away from the table.  When I returned, her plate was clean.  "Wow, you really ate fast!"  After a closer look I noticed that she had eaten the cornbread and butter, but she'd hid the veggies in her dinner napkin.

This gesture reminds of a story Mother told me many times through the years.  She said she would dump her oatmeal right out the window (this was obviously before screens).  Her mother thought she was eating it every morning!  It wasn’t until weeks later that her Mother noticed all the cats in the neighborhood were coming over to THAT spot for their morning breakfast!  Ha ha. 

After dinner each night, she sits on the front porch while I walk around the block.  It’s a short block.  I have threatened her life if she gets off the porch.  (Funny, she used to threaten MY life if I stepped off our porch when I was younger!) 

I find this is a perfect time to admire the work of my Creator God and tell Him about my day.  Every time I walk by the house, I tell Mother “Just one more time around the block.”  Thank goodness she stays there until I come back.  The day begins to get a little cooler with a slight breeze.

When I finish walking, I sit on the front porch with Mother and we talk about her family members who have passed away.   She thinks they are still alive in Griffin.  So what?  We can reminisce.  Mother and I relax in our rocking chairs on the front porch and enjoy the summer evening with fireflies.  Tonight, she’s not asking to go home.  I’m smiling.  All is well with the world.

I thank God for another day with my Mom and I say to myself, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.   How about you? Are you enjoying each day?  I hope so. 

Many times people have said, “I wish I had my Mom.  She died last year.”  One lady said, “Enjoy the journey, it won’t last forever.” 

I’m enjoying the journey.  I hope you are too.