#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR, DAY 9, HEATHER KINDT, @HMKINDT #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

2020 RWISA RISE UP TOUR BANNER

LOSING MOM

by Heather Kindt

Have you ever lost someone? The pain is unimaginable, ripping through you like an express train. But what if you lost that person again and again? The agony of the loss knocks you off your feet until you’re numb. That’s what it’s like when you lose someone to dementia.

My mom was my best friend.

She was my shoulder to cry on, and I told her everything. On summer mornings, she’d lie in bed thinking, so I’d hop in next to her and we’d talk about everything or nothing at all. She was there to hold me when I lost my first love and to celebrate with me when I found my last. We spent an entire summer planning my wedding and finding ways to keep the costs within my measly teacher salary. Rummaging through bargain bins at the Christmas Tree Shop, we found the perfect, gold-trimmed ribbon to don the pews at the church.

After I was married, I moved to Colorado and being two thousand miles apart put a dent in both of our souls. But, she was there when my babies were born, helping me figure out the tasks of new mother for the few weeks she was able to be away from home. She was always there, even if it had to be over the telephone wires.

Until she wasn’t.

It started off slowly—spoiled milk in the refrigerator, aluminum foil in the microwave, and accusing my uncle of leaving tiny, recording devices under her couch. She’s getting forgetful with age…paranoid. That’s what I told myself.

But then things weren’t so small. When my mom and dad finally moved to Colorado, she and my brother took separate cars to church one night. Matt followed my mom back to their house but instead of turning down their road, my mom went straight. I received the phone call from Matt frantic, explaining the situation.

“Why didn’t you follow her?” I thought it was a reasonable question.

“I don’t know?”

I lived an hour and a half away, and it was eight o’clock at night. Pulling on my coat, I waited by the phone. There was no way I’d be able to find my mom in a city at night, though I’d search all night if I had to. Before leaving out the door, I called Matt one last time. Why wasn’t he searching?

A pair of headlights turned up our driveway. Impossible. We lived in a housing development in the country littered with dirt roads and deer. I rushed down the stairs to greet my mother. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her whole body shook as she melted into my arms.

“He left me,” she sobbed. “I found a road that I recognized that went to your house, and I kept going.”

I wrapped her in a blanket and lay next to her on the bed in the spare room, her body heaving as she fell asleep.

As time went on, the incidents became more frequent. My parents moved back to New Hampshire because Dad couldn’t handle the altitude. My sister insisted they live in a retirement community. My mom didn’t like the price tag, so six months later she found an apartment in the town I grew up in. I was their telephone caregiver, calling every day on my way to work.

That summer when we visited, it was becoming more and more apparent that Mom couldn’t care for Dad, who was eighteen years her senior. He fell a couple of times, and she called the ambulance because she couldn’t lift him. Being there, I learned it was because he was malnourished and dehydrated. A local independent living facility provided them with at least two meals a day, and they could make friends. It worked for a while. Mom accused the maids of stealing her things, but it was her paranoia setting in again.

But then Dad got sick.

My mom insisted on coming to live with us. It was always how I imagined things would be. When Dad passed away, Mom would come live with us and help me with my children. But Dad wasn’t gone yet.

She insisted.

We moved her out to Colorado, and she lived with us. Frequent plane trips to New Hampshire drained my bank account. She missed him and in less than a year she wanted to move back. Things were different now. We hid her car keys, we arranged for her to go to a local senior center while we were at work, and she became severely combative.

For three years, my mother lived with us as I lost her day after day. At times, it felt like she ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I lashed out at her in my own frustration one day when she helped me clean out a closet. I missed our conversations, our comradeship and the love we’d always shared. It was as if someone reached down to Earth, snatched my mother and replaced her with a stranger. After three years, my husband and I made the decision to place her in a nursing home on a memory care unit.

I lost her again.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I had to do it for her safety. Mom would get angry with me for no reason at all and storm out of the house. My husband followed her in the car until he could coax her inside. Her leaving also saved our marriage. The strain and stress it put on us those three years isn’t something I would want anyone to go through.

Have you ever lost someone? I lose my mom everyday, but it’s not as painful now. When you lose someone to dementia, at least for me, it’s like you’re going through the pain of losing someone suddenly again and again over many years. At some point, the pain numbs because it has to, or the stress will eat you alive. I love my mother, but the disease has stolen precious years of her life. It’s in the small glimmers of her spirit—a smile, an mischievous eye aimed at my husband, a hug from recognition—that I find hope that someday we can be together fully again.

***

“Thanks for supporting me!”

Heather Kindt older

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Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment below and on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour  page!  Thank you and good luck!

33 Comments

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  1. You have inspired me to write my story. The quick outline? My mom died when I was 23. My husband of 21 years died in 2018 and my 19 year old son died last July. I do have a story…Oh, did I mention my father has dementia? He still lives with his partner but the decline is getting steeper each passing day,

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  2. A beautiful story, Heather! I too lost my mom to this illness many moons ago. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. A heartbreaking story so many of us have already or shall one day experience… You’ve told the sad story of your mom well, Heather. Sometimes we just need to know we’re not alone.

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  4. Dementia is heartbreaking over and over again. You have eloquently described the torment and the grief as you shared your experience. Blessings to you and your family.

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  5. Oh my… thank you for sharing this with us, Heather. It’s heartwrenching. Sending (((hugs))) across the miles.

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  6. Gwen M. Plano May 14, 2020 — 7:55 pm

    Beautifully written, Heather. You’ve captured the sense of loss and the longing that becomes our love when a parent starts slipping away. Blessings to you. ♥

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  7. Heather, your poignant story is heart-breaking. I could feel the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. peggyhattendorfcom May 14, 2020 — 6:32 pm

    Heather, dementia is one of the most insidious diseases in the world. I went through that with my mother-in-law and she lived with us for 7- years and we watched and witnessed the decline. Thank you, for sharing your personal story.

    Nonnie, I appreciate you hosting today.

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  9. Reblogged this on Rhani DChae and commented:
    I think many of us can relate to this heartbreaking story from #RWISA author Heather Kindt. Please read on.

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  10. Wow… Heather, your story brought me to tears. My mother is in her nineties and still fairly sharp, thank goodness! But others in my family have been affected with dementia, to one degree or another, and it is such a hard road to travel. My prayers are with you and your family.

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    • Thank you, Rhani. My father didn’t suffer from it but was too old to care for my mom. It is something that many people go through and from the stories I have heard, each one is different.

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  11. I feel your pain, Heather. I lost two family members to the same disease. It is harder on the caretakers than on the sick who is completely out of it. What a dreadful disease!

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  12. We had a very similar experience with my mother in law. Although she lived with us she slipped further and further away. It is such a sad ending to a beautiful life. Thank you for sharing your grief, Heather. As you say hopefully you will be reunited with your mom again.

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  13. Your story broke my heart. I can feel your love for your mom coming through the words on the page. And I can understand the frustration and helplessness that comes with caring for your mom as she lives with this. I’m sending you a few extra hugs today. Thank you for sharing your story with us. 🙂

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  14. What a heartbreaking story, Heather. It’s horrible to lose a loved one in any way but to lose them over and over again has to be the worst. You did a great job of conveying the emotions in your story, especially the scene where your mom found her way to your house. Well-done!

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    • Thanks, Jan! I know it’s sad, but I was often jealous of people who lost a loved one quickly when I first started on this journey. They carried grief but could move on. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe.

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  15. What a very sad but moving story Heather. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

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  16. Heather, this was so touching, and your description of dealing with dementia in a parent as losing her every day makes the loss so real and vivid. Your story was beautifully told. I’ m glad that at least you have the joy of seeing those “glimmers .”

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  17. Heather, thanks for sharing your heart-breaking journey with us. Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. D.L. Finn, Author May 14, 2020 — 4:55 am

    This is so beautifully said, Heather. It’s a hard disease to process in the moment. We lost my mother in law a couple years ago from it, but she always knew who we were up until the end. She was more confused on time or what normal items were used for. It was hard to get her the care she needed at first, too. My heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing this real insight into the struggle and pain. Hugs to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

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