There are many who are caring for their aging parents. It was my privilege to care for my mom for many years until she died two years ago. Now my efforts are spent in caring for my dad. I’m beginning to see some similarities in their behavior, even though my dad doesn’t have frontal lobe dementia like my mom did. My dad, at 93 years, is starting to display some old age dementia. He often gets confused and current conversations involve asking the same question multiple times. These things are hard, but they are things I can deal with without too much stress. There is one thing that distresses me, the loss of my name.
Many years ago, my dad had knee surgery. The day at the hospital had been a long one as I had to keep my mom in one place. She loved to wander off and talk to anyone she met. What lay ahead of me that evening was a sleepover with mom as dad was to remain in the hospital. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew mom wandered during the night too. I was really surprised when mom looked at me at 8:00 p.m. and saw not me but my stepsister. I know this because she was referring to those things related to my stepsister. After I finally got mom in bed, I went to bed and cried. It was a hard thing to know that my name and actually my face was gone from her brain. It hurt and left me aching inside. The rest of mom’s life she knew me and then she didn’t. God gave me the grace to accept this was the way it was going to be with mom.
I never expected to deal with the same emotions with dad but there isn’t any never, is there? My brother told me about his talk with dad concerning me. When I went in on Tuesday evening, dad hadn’t eaten enough food for the day. This was following him not eating enough on Monday so I was firm and made him eat before I would leave him. My brother called him on Wednesday and their conversation was something like this…
Dad – She was very upset with me yesterday.
Brother – Who was upset with you?
Dad – You know, Barbara.
Brother – Was Barbara over yesterday?
Dad – No, you know the one who comes over every day.
Brother – You mean Denise?
Dad – Yes, Denise.
I laughed at this when I heard it, but you know how it is when you think about something, your emotion changes. Yes, I do go over there every day both morning and evening. He sees me all the time and yet he forgot my name. I know it’s not purposeful and God will give me grace to endure. It is just another milestone in this care of him.
The whole name thing reminds me of what the scripture says about my name. As a follower of Christ, I know my position is secure because of Jesus dying in my place as the payment for my sins and then rising to life again on the third day which sealed my pardon. Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd. In John 10, Jesus lets me know my position as His sheep. It’s all so encouraging.
“…The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:3-4
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…” John 10:14
“…I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” John 10:17b-18a
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
My name is never forgotten by my Father God. I can’t be lost or taken away from my Father God. All of this is because of Jesus and his willingness to lay down his life for me. It’s not about him visiting me twice a day, but about his presence with me always. He never leaves me or forsakes me.
Yes, dad forgot my name but he remembered my presence. I rejoice in that and know that the days ahead in caring for him, I will be drenched in the grace of God.