There are many horrible things about dementia and my mother’s mental and physical decline. She can’t walk any more. She sleeps most of the day. She can’t remember things. She still remembers me and my brothers, but can’t remember details of her life and the other people in it. She can’t carry on detailed conversations any more. That is the downside of dementia.
But there is something else that we are experiencing with this decline. With dementia comes a send of mindfulness. Mom is totally in the moment. She is not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Each week, my brothers and I meet for brunch, then stop by Quick Trip to buy Mom an ice cream. When we arrive, she is so happy to see us. Genuinely happy. In the moment. There are still glimpses of the mother I grew up with, and those glimpses are always “in the moment” moments.
She still can be very funny, cracking jokes here and there, playing off something that we said. Mom and Dad were always having fun. Check out the picture to the left. When she eats her ice cream, she is totally focused on it, telling us how good it is and savoring every bite. She eats it like a child with simplicity and full engagement.
But the most astounding in the moment moment is when there is music in the air. There is a church group that comes once a month to her assisted living place, and they always start with several hymns. When they try to hand Mom a hymn book, we tell them that she doesn’t need it. She knows every word to every verse to every hymn they sing. Of course, she grew up in the church and played piano for years. And that part of her brain is completely intact. When the music starts, she is completely in the moment, singing not only the words, but the harmony. Wow!
I could dwell on the loss of Mom’s memory and her physical decline or I could be in the moment with her and cherish those “in the moment” moments. It’s a decision. And this not only goes for my time with her. This goes for all of the folks I come into contact with every single day. Are you in the moment, fully engaged, fully present with the people you come into contact with? Or are you checking your phone, your texts, Facebook, email, or some other technology that only pulls you away from the present? The choice is definitely yours.