72: A Mother’s Help

72: A Mother’s Help

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

A Mother’s Help

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.

~Jewish Proverb

My dad continued living in his home of forty years after we moved Mom to a secured dementia assisted living center. One Saturday, I decided to take my mom with me on the seventy-five-mile trip to check on my dad and their house. At this stage, Mom enjoyed riding and being outside. Plus, I knew how much the visit would mean to my dad.

We had a great day together: We enjoyed a meal at the kitchen table, got all the bills paid and mailed, laundry done and put away, the house was fresh and clean, and we made plenty of meals for Dad to enjoy throughout the week.

It was time for Mom and me to head back. Leaving Dad like this was always difficult for me. I knew he wanted us to stay longer, or even to have Mom return home permanently. We both knew that wasn’t possible. I always fought back tears as I said goodbye.

We got Mom in the car and safely buckled in. Dad thanked me over and over again for the help. I knew he was grateful for the visit, and I promised him that we would come back again soon. Then we drove off.

Mom entertained me with stories and anything that she could see from her window. I listened quietly as I was pretty exhausted. Then, less than half a mile from Mom’s facility, I drove through a green light at the intersection — or at least that would be my story when the red and blue lights flashed behind me.

I pulled over and explained to Mom that this would only take a second. By now, she was seeing a marvelous light show reflecting off the front windshield. Red. Blue. Red. Blue. Totally fascinated, she never noticed the officer approaching my car or the conversation between us. The officer asked where I was headed and I told him my mother lived at the facility nearby and I was taking her back there.

Fortunately, he was all too familiar with the facility because the police station was just two driveways east. Occasionally, some of the residents would get access to a phone and place emergency calls. These calls would soon to be followed by a visit from an officer responding to a call from someone claiming to be “kidnapped.”

When he asked for my driver’s license and registration I explained that my billfold was in the trunk because Mom had a tendency to take things out of it and hide them, but if he didn’t mind I would get it for him. He agreed. I jumped out of my seat and headed to the rear of the car. But when I got there and tried to raise the hatch, the door was locked. I returned to the driver’s door, where luckily I had left the window open, to unlock it. Again, I got to the hatch door and again it was locked. Starting to panic, I said to the officer, “Let me try again. I know I unlocked it.”

After the third try, the officer suggested that maybe Mom was locking the door as I walked to the hatch. I couldn’t hear it because our cars were still running. He said he would hit the unlock button once I got to the back of the car. He was right. As soon as she heard the unlocking sound, my mom would hit the button on the driver’s side door, which locked all doors.

Both the officer and I could not contain ourselves. We laughed so hard and shook our heads. What else could we do? He saw the embarrassment and stress on my face. He was so patient and understanding. He simply asked me to be careful because drivers often have bad accidents at that intersection. He told me to take care and offered a blessing for the huge responsibility I had. I expressed my heartfelt appreciation for his understanding and promised to heed his advice.

Within the next sixty seconds, I had Mom back at her place, safe and sound. I headed home to enjoy the alcoholic beverage of my choice and to reflect on yet another moment that would make me laugh and smile for many days to come.

~Cheryl Edwards-Cannon

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