Learning to Appreciate the Small Moments

Visiting an elderly mother with dementia, a daughter experiences a small moment of wonder.

Posted in , Oct 18, 2016

Learning to Appreciate the Small Moments

Today’s guest blogger is my Guideposts colleague Michelene Murphy-Staib.

Michelene’s mom has suffered from dementia for the past 2 years. It’s extremely difficult for Michelene to watch her mom struggle. But, as Michelene learned recently, it’s the small moments in life that can sometimes make all the difference.

Here’s her story:

Every time I visit my mom, I say a prayer that the day will be a “good visit.” Mom is 95, lives in a nursing care facility and suffers from dementia. This year, her health has declined more rapidly than ever before. She’s beaten bone cancer and breast cancer, and survived countless surgeries. But dementia is the hardest battle she’s fought. Each month brings another setback. Mom can’t hold a conversation, she can’t move her right arm and her left arm is shaky. Her thoughts are mostly incoherent. She’s confined to her bed or wheelchair and is on oxygen 24/7.

Once upon a time, Mom loved getting her hair and nails done. She’d wake up every morning and put her makeup on. Now, Mom’s nurses, who are wonderfully attentive, wash, dress and feed her. Mom doesn’t care if her hair is done or her nails are painted. Her face remains blank, motionless. I think she still recognizes me and her grandchildren. But sometimes she just stares out and has this lost, distant look in her eyes.

Read More: Caring for a Loved One with Late-Stage Dementia

On a visit last week, I brought Mom a small container of applesauce and one for me too. This has been our treat that we enjoy before the dinner trays come by. I usually feed Mom and then eat a bite of my own snack. On this particular day, I opened mom’s applesauce and left a spoon next to it. I then searched for a spoon for myself. When I turned around to take my seat on her bed, I gasped.

There was Mom holding her spoon in her shaky left hand, feeding herself. I started crying in amazement. “Mom, Mom, look what you’re doing–you’re feeding yourself!” I said.  

Mom looked at me and said, very clearly, “Yes, I am.”

To most people, it would’ve been a nothing moment. To me, though, it was a step. A small one. But a great one for Mom.

Watching Mom struggle with dementia has taught me to appreciate these wonders. I know our time together is running out. And so I’m thankful for whatever time God gives me with Mom. Especially the small moments that can often feel huge.

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