When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things.—1 CORINTHIANS 13:11 (CEB)
As my mother’s dementia stole more of her mind, she increasingly regressed. First, she argued with some belligerence like a teenager. Later, she reasoned like a young child lacking abstract logic. Eventually, her thoughts reminded me of toddlers who easily drift between fantasy and reality.
My mom had been an intelligent, articulate and quite logical woman. It was particularly sorrowful to watch her lose these attributes when she still looked and sounded like herself. Of course, I knew that she was the same person in her heart.
I found it useful to remind myself that my mother had known me as an infant. She had encountered my vivid
imagination early on, my less-than-logical protests as I grew and even my occasional belligerence in adolescence. Now it was my turn, and because of her dementia, I needed to let her speak like a child, think like a child and resume childish things beyond her control.
My mother had spent 20 years caring for me, and now, I was spending less than half that long caring for her. Knowing that she had experienced these issues with me as a child helped me frame my care for her as gratitude.