Just Thinking– Long farewell

September 27, 2013

Dr. Ray Augenstein

RayAugustienOne of the most beautiful Sunsets, I have ever seen was not seen through my eyes but through the eyes of my Mother-in-Law, as we were taking them to our Son’s home for a vacation. We lived in Ohio at the time, and our son lived near Manistee. It was close to evening when we came over a small hill, and suddenly the sun was visible in the west as it was settling down on the horizon. Now I have noticed Sunsets before and just summarily dismissed them without really looking at them.

But at this juncture of our trip, I was forced to slow down and really look, as my Mother-in Law loudly proclaimed to her husband, “Daddy look, I have never seen such a beautiful Sunset” It was true, the red’s, purples and oranges that lit up the sky and painted a colorful mosaic across the heavens, arrested our attention and we really noticed the sunset, that we would most probably have dismissed.

The thing is, my Mother-in-Law had Alzheimer’s and normally she probably wouldn’t have noticed the sunset either. The Alzheimer’s had made a lot of changes in her mentally. So many times we could see the little girl in her, as she pointed out different things in our travels , such as “look at the Horsies,” Oh Look at the Moo Cows” “Can we get some Ice Cream, I’ll pay.” There were other things also, that wasn’t so cute. She often misplaced things and then strongly affirmed that someone had stolen them. She might see a dress, on a person, and was sure that somehow, someone had stolen it from her, and had given it to them.
Alzheimer has been called the long farewell, and to have a parent or someone close relative suffer from it is hard to bear. To try to care for a person with the condition becomes almost a full time job, as you watch them progress from cute, to forgetfulness, to complete loss of memory. Love for our dear ones, forces us to continue to want to care for them.

Often we get so tired we can’t keep our eyes open, but we’re afraid to close them, for fear our parent or loved one will wake up in the night and take a nocturnal stroll. It’s hours of feeding, medicating, changing them. You will look for someone whom you can trust, to come and set with them for a little bit while you do your shopping, and other tasks.

You try to explain to your spouse and your children why you don’t want to place them in a care center. I know that some of this is extreme, but the fact is, Alzheimer’s is deadly, just as deadly as cancer. You know what the end will be, but you don’t want to admit it. Medication will delay it sometimes, and your tender care is important. But you have to know at what point you need to let mama, or daddy go, to a place to be cared for, by those better trained than you. When you have given all that you can.

When you are tired of fighting to hold on to that little piece of mama or daddy, you remember, then take those memories, and pictures, and hold them close. Remember the good times, the fun times, with the strong parent you had, and lets fight, pray, and work to find a cure for this killer.

Dr. Raymond Augenstein PhD. Born in Michigan. Served in the US.Navy as a yeoman attached to the CID. Attended Bible college in California after military service. Became Pastor, Evangelist, Gospel recording artist. Continued studies to become a licensed counselor. Earned a Doctorate Degree from The University of Michigan, after retiring from 42 years in the ministry. Formerly Supervisor of Hayes Township.

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