Family Ties

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”   (2 Cor 6:17  NIV)

Despite my resolve, I sit here day after day, swallowing the words I should say. I try to swallow my anger as well, but it just won’t go down.

I’m angry with Mom, though I doubt she can control her wild behavior. I’m angry with Dad, though I know he’s afraid.  

Mostly I’m angry with myself.

Anger. It lives in this house. Mom’s anger dozes on the green couch, oblivious to the smells of urine and cigarette smoke that cling to the cushions.  Dad’s stares out the kitchen window, cursing the weeds in the lawn. Mine sits at the kitchen table, drumming its fingers on the vinyl cloth.

As I look at Mom now, I remember the scene just a few days ago: her eyes ablaze with rage over a comment Dad made about her hair, her hand slamming down on the table, hot coffee erupting from a cup and spilling onto the floor. That irrational behavior isn’t going to change on its own. In fact, it doesn’t take much for me to imagine that scene ending with someone burned by whatever hot liquid might be on the table next time.  I can even see the day when Mom might slam her hand against Dad instead of the table. 

Deal with that thought, I tell myself. Deal with that.

If only I could see these people—my parents—as strangers. Just an older couple I happened to meet. If they were anyone other than my parents, maybe I would take charge, with common sense, strength.

“Get your wife to a doctor, Sir,” I could say. “And if she won’t go, find a doctor to come to your home. She’s irrational. At times she’s out of control. She’ll hurt herself. Or you, Sir. It’s just a matter of time.”

I’d stop him when he claims she’s just tired, maybe depressed. “This goes ‘way beyond tired, Sir. And I don’t know enough about depression to say if it can cause behavior like hers, but I know she needs a doctor. Just waiting for something to change won’t help.”

At this point the older man might have his head in his hands. Or he might be staring at me, pain in his eyes, or fury. But I’d continue, no matter how sad or angry he looked.

“I can see what you won’t acknowledge,” I’d tell him. “I see how bad it can get. Your wife’s actions will hurt someone if you don’t intervene.”

Maybe he’d say, “I’m here! Nothing’s going to happen I can’t handle.”

But I’d keep the pressure on. “You can’t be with her every second. And even if you could, she fights you. I’ve seen it. What will happen when she hurts you? Worse, what will happen when your hands bruise her or your fingernails scratch her or when she fights so hard to get away from you she falls and breaks a bone? How will you feel then, Sir?”

By this time he might have tears in his eyes. Or he might turn and go out the door, slamming it behind him. Regardless, I would have said what needs to be said. He would have heard what he needs to hear.

But these people aren’t strangers. It’s my father I’d be talking to, my mother I’d be talking about. I am their child. The one who feared making waves, who always tried to please, who’s still programmed to accept her father’s words as fact, as law.

I am their child. But I have to be the adult here now. If anything can be done to set their lives on more stable ground, I have to do it.

God help me.

Lord, you know me. You know my parents. And you know Alzheimer’s. As I look at those three things, I see weakness, denial, and destruction. But when you look at them, you see hope. A plan. Miracles. Strengthen me, please, to see as You see and act according to Your inspiration. Remind me to expect miracles.   

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About atimeformiracles

I'm a writer. And a speaker. And an advocate for victims of Alzheimer's. I write about a lot of things, but right now Alzheimer's has taken center stage. You'll see some of my work on my blog If you're a caregiver, this blog is for you, from someone who has been in your shoes. I offer help in the form of tips and strategies gained through my personal experience. I offer encouragement in the form of witness: You are never alone. The God of all hope is always with you, and where He is, miracles abound. I speak to groups on the same subject, sharing helps and challenging caregivers to expect joy on the path through Alzheimer's. It's a rough road, but it leads through terrain of intense beauty. I can point out some of the miraculous sights along the way. In the U.S., a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's is made every 69 seconds. Please join me in praying for those suffering from the disease and for those who care for them.

2 thoughts on “Family Ties

  1. Kathy, These are so good and so honest. Bless you for sharing all you went through with the rest of us. You had a very rough time and it made you that much stronger.

  2. Kathleen, my constant prayer is that this blog will reach those multiplied thousands upon thousands who are living, right this moment, where you and I have been. Those of you reading this blog, please send it to some caregiver you know who may or is dealing with this dreadful disease.

    You, my special friend, are giving vent to the emotions we have all faced, but more than that, you encourage us to first of all cry out to God for the strength to endure. And then the wisdom to do one day at a time, totally depending on the Lord to carry us through, just like He promises and just like He did with you.

    DiAne Gates

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