She’s always said, “I love you so much!” It’s one of her signature statements those of us who love her back count on hearing. She has always said each word carefully. There is nothing “on the surface” about Mama’s love.
Sometimes, on her bad days, when I say them to her, Mama’s only response is a nod. I see she is trying to remember what to say back, but the words seem to have been devoured by the dementia.
Other days, like yesterday, she says, “I love you, I love you, I love you so much!” There is a tender urgency in her voice letting me she wants me to know what she can’t say on other days.
I believe that to be true, because all of my life Mama was a planner. She baked extra cookies, “just in case.” Many mornings she made coffee in the big pot because it was possible a friend or three might stop in. She taught me to get out my clothes for school the night before. Mama also tucked away small amounts of money and small, but meaningful “just because” gifts or for rainy days. If I was lacking in a hug, she’d give me two – one for now and one for later in the day.
That’s always been her way, and it still is.
Tucked inside the beauty of her words, she is still being herself; determined to give me the gift of her love – one for now and two for the other days she can’t.
Although I hate dementia, I am as determined as Mama. Every day I ask God to help me see the real woman she is. And he does, but first I have to shake off my self-pity, and look for His answer. When I do, (with His help), I see it in the way she looks at my dad or teases him, the way she says my name, the tone in her voice when she says, “my son” when she’s talking about my brother, or in the way she reverently closes her eyes as I read a favorite Psalm to her and see her lips moving as she recites the words to Him in a whisper only He can hear.
Maybe someday dementia will take her completely. She knows that and is concerned about it. I know this because yesterday she said, “Joy, I hate what’s happening to my brain.” I told her I did too. We both had tears in our eyes, and she said it again, “I love you, I love you, I love you so much.”
I’m storing them up in my heart to cherish because there are rainy days ahead when I will need them to comfort me.
In times like this, we will say . . . Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! Psalm 63:3 (NLT)
This one of Mama’s favorite Psalms and when we get to this verse, she always nods her head in agreement with the words. It is then that I am aware of the priceless faith legacy Mama is giving us.
You might be wondering what I say back to her when she tells me how much she loves me.
“I love you too, Mama.”
She gets the last word in (because of the lump in my throat) when she says, “I know you do, honey.”
Until Next Time,