Monday, January 26, 2009

Finding Grace at the End of Life

It seems that most of the Catholic women bloggers I read are younger women, doing a wonderful job of raising (and often educating via homeschooling) large families. They are an inspiration, and they make me wish I had been a little more like them when my children were small.

Right now, my children are lurching forward into adulthood and (hopefully) self-sufficiency, making a few mistakes along the way. Let's just say that I have taken one child's needs often to good St. Monica. Thankfully, that child is beginning to straighten out, and I have every hope that he will make it the rest of the way.

I am worrying at a distance (approximately 2.5 hours driving) over my aging parents. It would be more accurate to say both worrying over and being inspired by my parents at the same time. My dad has dementia, and it's been accelerating over the last few months. As I see him drift further and further into confusion week by week, I often feel like a child standing on a shore, watching my father drift away into a dark, cloudy sea. I remind myself that for every loss that takes him further from us, he is moving toward a bright eternal future that is the hope of all who believe in Christ. I would like to believe that this disease is some sort of purgatory while he is yet alive, because truly, he is becoming like a little child. Perhaps in this state, he will be able to enter the kingdom more directly when God calls him home.

Without faith, losing a beloved parent to dementia must be a horrible thing. Because of faith, I still see much to be thankful for here. Two months ago, he did not know me, after surgery to repair a fractured hip. When he once again greeted me by name, I cried like a child. He may never walk again, or even stand without significant support. My mother remains hopeful and steadfast. She has rarely left his side. Pre-Cana couples should be required to apprentice themselves to my parents.

I have been living like a ping-pong ball, bouncing from my parents back to my own home, a few days here, a few days there. Sandwich generation, a time of enormous trials, but also of immense blessings found in seemingly small things: the touch of my father's hand, the heroic strength of my mother as she cares for him, the sound of young people laughing in my home as I turn the key in the lock at the end of a long drive. I don't know where this post is heading. I don't think it said anything profound. It's just my way of of getting a few things out of my head and heart where they have been rolling around. It's my way of telling you a little more than I can provide in the profile space. Thank you for listening.


  1. Hi Lydia,

    You sound just like me in some ways. My eldest is 17 and completing his last year at school. I didn't home school my first 4 children but I am home schooling our younger three.

    My father also has dementia. I live about 3.5 hours away from my parents. It is hard to watch them with this disease and I also couldn't imagine going through it without faith.

    It is nice to meet another Catholic mom. I will add your blog to my blog list.


  2. Thanks for stopping by, and for following.