Sometimes I wonder, I worry… in years ahead, will I be lying in a bed, unable to get up on my own? Unable to turn on a television using a remote control? Unable to use a cell phone? Unsure of where I am or why I’m there?  What will it be like for me? Will I be scared and anxious? Will I be relaxed and content? Will I miss the abilities and awareness that I have lost?

I’m lying in my own bed as I ponder this on a quiet Saturday morning. Typically, if I have a quiet, slow start to a Saturday, I love to stay in bed with a book or even just my phone. But it occurred to me, there will come a time that I won’t be able to follow the plot or the content of a book. And (laughing) I already have trouble navigating my cell phone at times, so as technology offers even more options and opportunities, no doubt I will use my device less and less.  

So why not spend a few moments this morning in a quiet meditative state, considering what life might be like in years ahead? But I cannot imagine it. My anxiety immediately grows.  Echoes of a recent article that I read haunt me. The language people often use includes phrases like “since he isn’t really there anymore” and “she doesn’t know anything” to describe those with dementia. But… that’s not how I see it (nor how I want to be seen someday.) That’s not how I see mom.  

On Easter Sunday, mom was able to go to church with me. She doesn’t go every week, but I try to prioritize getting her there about once a month. Easter definitely seemed like a great Sunday to include her. Now remember, mom has had a diagnosis and needed support/care for about 17 years at this point. She frequently asks where she is, how things work, and other basic questions that illustrate that she is not certain of the date, time, location, etc. But when a church friend took her hands and greeted mom, including a loving Easter reminder that they will be reunited with their spouses and other loved ones again in heaven someday, mom’s reply was priceless: “I just hope they all get to bring a cat with them.” I’m still smiling even though this happened a week ago! 

I’m 99.9% sure that mom wasn’t trying to be funny. She meant what she said. Mom has always loved cats. What I love about this exchange was how genuine mom was in reply to our friend. She wasn’t embarrassed. She wasn’t ashamed or worried what someone might think. She wasn’t trying to say the right thing. She just replied with an honest, genuine remark.  

Yes, mom has physical and mental challenges due to dementia. Yes, mom is greatly affected by dementia. But mom is still there. Mom is still Mom. And even when she can’t form words to reply to a friend’s comment, even when she can’t recognize her own children or grandchildren, even when she can’t go down the hall without a wheelchair… the unique wonderful woman we call Cheryl will always be with us… physically and spiritually… until she passes on to life eternal.  

Remembering mom’s Easter cat comment was incredibly helpful to me as I lay in bed this morning, beginning to toss and turn, to sweat and worry. Of course, I can’t know or imagine what it is going to be like for me 10 or 20 years from now. I don’t know what I will be able to do, what skills I will retain, what needs will arise. It’s easy to focus on those likely losses/changes and to wonder and worry. But mom’s Easter cat comment reminded me… I’m still going to be me. Even if I can’t remember what town I live in. Even if I don’t know what church I attend. Even if I forget my beloved children’s names. I will still be me. I’ve clearly inherited mom’s love for cats, so who knows… maybe I’ll be making theological cat comments in the years ahead just like mom has modelled for me. And if I do, I hope it makes you smile.  

5 thoughts on “The Easter Cat Comment

  1. The comments your mom or any person with dementia makes that harken back to something you know they experienced and loved are like finding a gem on a path where you never thought it could exist. Thanks for sharing. My mom had dementia too and your comments remind me of some of her rare and special gems.


  2. Thank you for this courageous and profound message. As a psychiatrist who has worked with people living with cognitive disabilities for 40 years, I always learn something from you that deepens my understanding and compassion. I will hold this in my heart. Of course, I hope we can all take a dog with us, too❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kendra – thank you for telling us all this wonderful story of your wonderful Mom. I can see and hear her saying exactly this – sending you hugs and love Deanna


  4. Thank you , thank you for this beautiful, wise and powerful message,Kendra. It is just what I needed, a glimpse of the great spiritual foundation that underlies our our fragile conscious being.


  5. You are so brave and such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart with us. I so LOVE your writings . . . they help me EVER SINGLE TIME.

    Liked by 1 person

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