Ebenezer Collective | BLESSED IN OBEDIENCE
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Ashleigh Lankford

We started noticing changes in my mom a few years ago. However, with us living four hours away, we weren’t able to keep track of her day to day. Still, when I was pregnant with my second baby six years ago, she forgot our baby’s gender and name, which was very much unlike her. Then, about four years ago, she became too fearful to drive the four hours up the highway to visit us. And then two years ago, while she spent the weekend with us, she asked more than five times in one day where our trash can was. Not to mention last Christmas, when she spent hours up in our guest room trying to wrap ten gifts and at the end was still perplexed as to the recipient of a few of the gifts and how to wrap them. The signs were there, but she’s only 62… isn’t she too young for this? Also, somehow she was still employed and presumably able to do her job.

One day in May, I had driven the four hours into Houston to take a break from homeschooling and visit family with my three kids, ages 7, 4, and 1, in tow, while my husband was out of town for work. My cousin in Kansas texted, “Hey, have you talked to your mom? She was fired.”

“Oh no,” I thought. I drove to my mom’s condo, and as I started gathering more and more information over the next few weeks, I began to realize that all of those little things we had seen were just the tip of the iceberg. Debt accrued. Bills had not been paid. Her condo almost foreclosed. Hoarding. A plethora of notebooks filled with reminders, both of things to do and of what she did.

Her extended family was and has been incredibly hands on and loving throughout this whole process, yet, as her only child, her care has fallen mainly on my husband’s and my shoulders. We moved my mom in with us, just after the loss of her job. We’ve taken her to doctors to get her a diagnosis: Early Onset Alzheimer’s, which refers to age not the stage. We cleaned out her condo in preparation to sell, totaled up the debt and started negotiations for settlements, and applied for Social Security Disability, which – praise the Lord – was approved within 15 days! I’ve poured over functional medicine texts, regarding the root of Alzheimer’s and perhaps the cure. We’ve started supplements and cut sugar.

And all the while, she has progressed rapidly. We began to question how safe it was to leave her alone for more than a brief grocery run. And my mom, who was always dressed to the nines, hair colored and makeup flawless, has started wearing the same outfit days in a row, and often inside out. No makeup. Almost completely gray. My heart breaks every morning when she walks into the kitchen and waits with the kids for breakfast.

I have researched future care options. We have been told by so many people who have walked this road, that, especially with three small children, we need to have a plan because we won’t be able to care for her forever, and we don’t want to end up in crisis with no game plan.

Some days I am still shocked that this is where we are. I am 34. I never expected to care for mom, not with three small children at home. She’s too young. I’m too young. This was not my plan. I had plans to soak up time with my kiddos and be fully devoted to teaching them at home, to continue with our homeschool co-op, to grow my home business, and to maybe someday fulfill my dream to world-school our kids while we travel. But that’s not what the Lord has put before us in this season, and I’ll consider myself “truly glad” (1 Peter 1:6) because we can trust that God is good and that He is kind.

My girls (7 and 4) have asked lots of sincere questions. “Why does Mimi have to live with us? Will she get better? Why does she get us mixed up? Why can’t she remember where her room or bathroom are?”

And you know what’s crazy? Telling our kids that there is blessing in our obedience. As hard and inconvenient as caring for their Mimi is, she is our family, and we love her. God has asked us to care for her, and we are blessed in obedience.

And the truth is that blessings have come from this. In just six months.

My mom and I were not particularly close growing up. There were a variety of reasons for that, but I know she always wanted to be closer. We have not had much time with her in recent years, and now here she is living with us. We see her daily. We are able to love on her and remind her of God’s goodness.

In this season, it would be easy to be angry and discouraged, but instead, we are choosing to view this time as a gift, whether it’s six months or two years, because we can trust that God is the giver of good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and that despite today’s troubles, there is wonderful joy ahead (1 Peter 1:6).

Amanda Buccola
[email protected]
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