Le blog de la Bergerie
Today I brought my mother back to the chalet as was planned. I had told the staff of the Alzheimer ward of her retirement home that I was going to do this. There were a few difficult moments in the day and I’m going to tell you about the first one because there is such a nice twist about it. But first, let me say that everything was going fine this morning, she was ready to go and she was in a good mood. The staff gave me a lighter wheelchair than last week, which was much easier to handle, so I was happy.
The first difficult and tricky moment happened when I tried to put her in the car. I have noticed it is getting harder for me to take her from the wheel chair to the car seat than the other way around but I have managed to do it successfully in the past. But not this morning, when we were alone in the parking lot of the retirement home, I did everything I know regarding this “transfer” but as soon as I had lifted her up and rotated her toward the car seat, she started slipping backward – and complaining “What are you doing? You’re hurting me etc...” So she ended up sitting on the very edge of the car seat; I asked her to sit further back but she could not do it, I tried to lift her but I could not move her, so the situation started to look bleak because she was slowly sliding down. It occurred to me that I needed help but I could not leave her where she was, hanging on one inch of the car seat, so I was going to have to put her back in the wheelchair.
It is at that moment that I started praying fervently to Saint Philomena! With a tone of emergency in my heart, I BEGGED her to help me because I did not know what to do – and to think that we were not even out of the parking lot yet! My mother was getting uptight and when she is like this, she gets all stiff and becomes heavier and it is impossible to move her.
But suddenly, I saw Christine running toward us. Christine is in charge of the activities in the Alzheimer ward and she knows me and she knows my mother. She is very nice, very ressourceful and full of energy and she yelled at me “Wait, Michele, I’ll help you!” As soon as I saw here, I knew we were going to be fine. The two of us pushed and pulled and within 5 minutes, my mother was sitting in the car correctly, well placed and with the seat belt on. My mother did fight us and she even tried to hit Christine’s face. But we were done, and as soon as it was done, everything turned calm and pleasant within one second and my mother was happy. I thanked Christine profusely and she said someone inside told her that I was having problems and that my mother was about to fall down… I said Au-revoir to her, I started the car, my mother was already smiling, and Christine wished us “Bonne Journée!” as we drove away.
And then I remembered my prayer to Saint Philomena! I certainly thanked HER profusely! She had done it again, she helped me in a tight situation. It brings a smile to my face just to think of Saint Philomena tonight, I’m telling you, Christine came RUNNING to my help this morning, the woman was not walking casually through the parking lot, she ran and she rushed to my side! Bless her heart. And bless the saints who watch over us and help us navigate this life of ours. Any answered prayer is a mini-miracle.
So my mother and I spent the day together in the chalet. We had a nice lunch (homemade vegetables puree and yogurt) and my mother ate well. At one point she said she was happy because “she was in her home with her daughter”, which is a fairly long statement for her to say spontaneously. Well, technically, she did not really say “daughter”, she said she was here “with her wife” (it is true that “fille” and “femme” in French are rather similar). But of course, little Miss Accurate that I am, I corrected her right away, calmly, saying “I’m your daughter, I’m not your wife”, but then she seemed puzzled because by that time she did not remember what she had said, and I’m sure she was not even aware of the words she used. I have been noticing recently that she is doing more and more of this type of “words mix up” but I knew exactly what her intent was and I should have let it go.
After lunch my mother took a long nap in her own bed. Then I woke her up, we had a little snack and I even managed to take her outside in her wheelchair, using my beautiful new access ramp. I took her for a small ride toward the farm but she quickly said it was too windy and wanted to come back indoor. However we were able to do this little promenade outside because of this good hearted parishioner I know who worked a whole afternoon building a small wooden ramp for me and I greatly appreciate it. What a wonderful example of charity in action.
Then I took my mother back to the retirement home for dinner time and I drove right back to the house. I wonder sometimes what is the best thing to do for her, am I right to transport her from one place to another like that? What should I do, she is becoming so weak and skinny – and confused. But I also know that trying to think when I’m tired is far from practical. By that point, I felt exhausted, physically and mentally, and I even had briefly the temptation to climb in bed and pull the covers over my head. But No, it is Holy Thursday, so I changed myself and then drove to the next village 10 miles away where was held tonight service.
HOLY THURSDAY: And how a beautiful and moving service it was! There was a packed church, the wonderful renovated organ, the choir, the sun setting through the stained glass windows of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the center with smaller windows below. It was such a great liturgy about service and love, about the institution of the Eucharist out of love for us, about going “all the way” for love. This was exactly what I needed to hear tonight. I love my mother and I want to help her and care for her in this time of her life when she needs it the most, incapacitated by old age and Alzheimer. I need to love her till the end and not run away out of fear… Tonight’s readings and prayers and hymns were all about love and charity and compassion and stretching ourselves for others. The washing of the feet is such a powerful ritual. At one point, the priest said that “holiness can start with the feet, with our tired and dirty feet” and it made me laugh a bit, I had never thought of it this way but Yes, I get it, our feet can certainly be the first step toward holiness. Especially coupled with the humility needed to wash someone else’s feet. Humility is so precious, it frees up a space in us and around us so we can then become attentive and open to others. One prayer toward the end of the service was “for the ones who could not be here tonight, for the ones who did not want to come tonight, for the ones who do not know about tonight…” It is such an open welcome and all-encompassing prayer! It is inviting the whole world into our praying hearts. And exercising our heart works on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. It activates in us the capacity to see more, to lift a little bit the veil of this world so we can recognize and appreciate its wonders.
From a mini-miracle this morning in the parking lot to this wonderful, paramount and profound night of entering the Triduum, which is the super-mega-miracle of all times, the biggest gift of all, what a day it has been! Reflecting on it, with fears and worries washed away by the grace of the liturgy, I could only feel gratitude and trust. The day was great, the day was blessed, for my mother and for myself and for many more. Thank God for his mercy, for his saints, for his angels, and for helping us again and again through the hurdles of the day.