The speaker at a seminar that I recently attended said dementia is like a light bulb in the brain that has somehow switched off.
But, she added, every now and then, and almost always unexpectedly, that light bulb switches back on, shining brightly.
The other day when mom was telling me what animals, people or things she was seeing in the clouds her light bulb lit up and was so bright, it out shined the sun.
She switched from describing an elephant she was pointing at to a conversation about my sister who passed away in late March after a long, horrific battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.
Mom totally caught me off guard, not only for what she said, but that she was talking about Nel in the first place.
Up until this moment, she had only mentioned Nel by name twice since she died. And both times it was when she was having what I could only describe as nightmares, because she would scream out, “Nel, Nel, are you Ok? Nel, why don’t you answer me?”
On both occasions I ran to her room, held her in my arms and both times she opened her eyes and asked me where Nel was and if she was alright.
I whispered that Nel was fine, and with that, mom fell right back to sleep without a peep the rest of the night. And, the next morning, there would be no recollection of a bad dream or my coming into her room whatsoever.
Here’s what mom told me when the light bulb in her brain switched on.
And then, in a blink, there was nothing but darkness and silence.
The next thing I remember was mom pointing up in the sky again and trying to get my attention, “Look over there, that looks like a man’s head and his big mouth is open and he is eating another cloud. Do you see that? His lips are huge!”
The fact is, I did see the man and he looked exactly like mom described him. And, his lips were huge.
Later that evening, after tucking mom for the night, the light bulb moment triggered another one I hadn’t thought about since it happened.
The night before we called 911 to have an ambulance take Nel to the emergency room, mom, Nel and I sang, ” This Little Light of Mine.”
And, Nel, who could hardly complete a sentence by this time, clapped her hands and sang every word perfectly in her beautiful soprano voice. The voice of an angel.
The next night she was he was admitted to the hospital and a few days later taken to a hospice where ultimately all of our prayers were answered and Nel was, after years of fighting a losing battle, was at peace. I closed her eyes, told her how much we loved her and that dad would sure be happy to see her and show her around her new home.