What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving, Role Reversal and "The Golden Rule" -Updated 11/25/15

This was originally written last year on the day before Thanksgiving, 11/26/14.  Here we are again, one year later, on the day before Thanksgiving...and not a whole lot has changed...We still have my mother in law with us primarily on the weekends, but this week, due to some health issues that my brother in law is experiencing, we have had her all week long. The other major change is that I just retired this past Friday, so now I am adjusting to being home all day...and she has been here as well...and it has had its challenges...but on the whole, I must say I am very thankful for the fact that she is still in pretty good physical shape for her age of 92...and that God is helping us to cope with the issues that come up due to her progressive dementia.  Sometimes you just have to find ways to laugh and be silly together...like playing with a baby doll,,,

Sometimes even my hubby gets in on the fun with the baby doll!

Or baking cookies together...(I bake, she watches and counts the cookies as they come out of the oven and tries to keep track of how many we've eaten before they even cooled down...a very good mental exercise for her...and she does surprisingly well all things considered)

Or having a tea party with a friend...

And sometimes it's fun to pat a baby's "bear" butt...and just enjoy the feel of something warm and snuggly...even if it IS a babydoll!  It brought a smile to her face...and that's worth everything... 

So here's the original post from last year...it was good for me to review this again after a particularly exasperating day.  I needed to remind myself that "Love Never Fails".

November 26, 2014:

It's the day before Thanksgiving...and there's a lot going on in my mind and heart right now. But for today, this is probably the uppermost thought, and even though it seems to be a bit of a repetitive theme for me lately...this is what's happening now.  I may elaborate on other things after we get through cooking and eating and enjoying Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends sometime later this weekend...

I just finished reading an excellent book on a subject that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately...
When Your Parent Becomes Your Child, A Journey of Faith Through My Mother's Dementia    by Ken Abraham.  One of my other blogging friends had mentioned this book and I thought.."I need to read that one right now!"  So I ordered it...actually ordered two copies...one for my family and one for my brother-in-law and his family.  Why? Because we are living it right now in our family as we are joint care-givers for my 91 year old mother-in-law...who is rapidly descending the slippery slope from being mentally present with us to drifting further and further away in a cloud of confusion, memory lapses, paranoia, anger and fear.

When I first picked up this book and started reading I was astounded. I thought Mr. Abraham was writing about my mother in law.  The similarities were amazingly much too close for comfort.  "Minnie" Abraham, Ken Abraham's mother, exhibited so many of the same symptoms that they could have been "sisters in crime"...the crime of changing into a totally different person through the sad progression of the deterioration of the mind.

This post is not intended to be a book review, however, if you are dealing with these kinds of changes in your loved one, I would heartily recommend that you read this book as well as any other information you can put your hands on.  There is a wealth of knowledge on this subject shared on the internet and I am certain many other books are available.  I appreciated Mr. Abraham's story because it was a deeply personal and honest confession of his own frustration and inadequacies in dealing with the changes he saw taking place in his mother.  However, he gave a lot of helpful information that he learned through first hand experience, which I have found especially enlightening.

I think the main thing that I am learning as we share the responsibility of caring for our loved one with my husband's brother and his family is that we have to communicate regularly with each other. There are changes taking place weekly and even daily that we need to be aware of.  Right now she is still able to be driven back and forth between our two homes on the weekends so that hopefully neither of us will  suffer caregiver burnout too quickly. But we are also realizing that this may not last much longer. As her condition continues to deteriorate we may have to enlist professional/long term assistance in one form or another.

For now we are taking things one day at a time and trying to make every moment count.    As long as she is physically able to do things in the home, we encourage her to take part in the family activities as much as possible.  Spending quality time together, cleaning up the kitchen after meals, folding laundry, setting the table...who cares if the towels and underwear aren't folded the way I always fold them?  What difference does it make in the grand scheme of things if she puts the knife, fork and spoon on the wrong side of the plate, or doesn't remember which drawer holds the silverware and which cupboard holds the plates...or if she gets confused about whether we just ate lunch or supper...she loves to feel useful as she is still contributing something to the family by her presence with us.

And truly she is.  I love to hear her humming a little song as she helps dry the dishes or as she sits in the rocking chair and chats with me while I prepare our meals. They say that music is one of the last "senses" to go from the mind...and I believe that to be true.  My mother in law still loves to listen to her favorite gospel music CD's every day and she can sing along like she is right there with them.
"Nanny" helping our son with the dishes and enjoying spending happy moments
with her #1 Grandson.  He appreciates the blessing of sharing this time with her as well.
We try hard to see the humor in some of the things that she says or does, even if it is sad that she doesn't realize what is happening to her.  However, some things aren't so funny, especially when she gets angry over the least little thing that doesn't go her way...or when she tries to cut short our visits with friends because she thinks it is time for them to go and she's tired of not being the center of attention. Or when she repeats the same things over and over and over again all day long, and to her it is like she just thought of it that very moment...but we've already had to endure the story/comments/questions too many times to count.

Patience is a virtue that sometimes wears thin. It is difficult for those closest to her to understand that our loved one really doesn't know that she's saying these things over and over again...or that her temper tantrums, negative comments about other family members and delusions are not really the product of a ninety-one year old mature Christian woman...but are the manifestations of a mind/brain that is rapidly breaking down, shriveling up, wearing out...dying.

So every day is a challenge in this journey we are traveling. As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I try to count my blessings and not dwell on the difficulties of life.  I know that someday it will be my turn to be the one that needs care...and I pray that there will be someone willing and able to go the extra mile for me as long as deemed reasonable and possible.  I try to practice "The Golden Rule"..."do unto others as you would have them do unto you..."...not expecting my mother in law to be able "do unto me" any longer...she has already done her part in loving and caring for me and my family all these years.  It is our turn to return the blessing to her...and perhaps this experience will also help the younger generation realize what their part will be in the future.

Some thoughts from the "Love" chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13:1-8

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a
clanging cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, 
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
but have not love,
it profits me nothing.




There really isn't anything more I can add to  that...
Hug and hold your loved ones closely this Thanksgiving.  We never know when it will be the last opportunity we will have to show them how much we love them.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever!"
Psalm 107:1

Click HERE for previous thoughts on Thanksgiving and Family traditions.

And Click HERE for previous posts about the journey we are currently on with my mother in law.


  1. Hi Pam! God bless you and yours for the support you are to your Nanny. She is no longer the 'life of the party' and can't do what she used to do, but your struggle to see joy and support in what you do for her is truly serving as Christ to her.
    I am sure in her heart somewhere she is thankful for you. And I am too. Thank you for being a blog-friend. I pray your holiday will be a close one, with joys and love around the table.

    1. Thank you for those thoughts and words of comfort, support and encouragement. We will savor every moment together...even when some of those moments may be strained or difficult. My prayer is that we will remember to focus on the "Thanks" part of this holiday...as well as the "giving". May you and yours have a joyous time together!

  2. You are an inspiration Pam. I like how you are giving us readers an honest picture of this journey you all are going through. Thank you for not glossing it over with platitudes and martyr-ish christianese. You and your family are showing honor in every way you know how and that will lead to no regrets later when the really hard decisions come up.

    1. Thank you Susie. Every day is a new experience and challenge. I am thankful that somehow God keeps giving us the strength we need to keep going. My hope is that this Thanksgiving will be one that we will all treasure in our hearts forever. I know YOU will be enjoying a marvelous blessing in celebrating your first Thanksgiving with your sweet grandson! Take lots of pictures!!!

  3. Pam; May God continue to bless you and yours as you travel this journey. I believe you and your family are doing this in a way that is pleasing to God. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you,

    1. Thank you Cecilia. I thank you for mentioning that book by Ken Abraham. But I went back to try and find where you wrote about it and couldn't find it. Did I have the wrong person?


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