Lisa's story

“My mom always knew what to do and did it. But a time came when my siblings and I thought mom was behaving unusually, so I visited to check things out. I went up to her house for a weekend and felt the walls start to close in on me the minute I walked in the door. When it came time for bed, mom wanted to set her alarm clock, but she couldn’t do it.

The next morning, I sat across from her at the kitchen table. With a touchy tone, she said, ‘Well, did you call your brother and sister? You’re not going to let this go, are you?!’ I said, ‘No, I’m not. I want you to see a doctor to figure out what’s going on.’ I went outside on the front lawn to breathe and called my brother and sister, ‘Mom’s coming home with me... and I don’t think she’s ever coming back to this house...’ Within two months, the diagnosis of lewy body dementia came.

I always thought caring for my parents would be my blessing, but, when the time came, I panicked. Once we had a diagnosis, I told two of our pastors first, and let me tell you, there was some ugly crying going on in that room. They didn’t flinch.

A couple of weeks later, several St. Mark’s angels started a support group for caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The monthly meetings were a place I could vent the shock of it all. There were no answers to the hard questions, and the group didn’t try to give any. They simply listened. We heard one another as only people who experience these things can.

After her diagnosis, my mom lived with me and my husband for two and half years, and then in a care facility for another year and a half.  I am not a patient person, but I got the patience I needed during those years. I don’t think of them as ‘bad times’.  While I was bearing my mother’s burdens, people at St. Mark’s were bearing mine. I was still scared, but I saw God every step of the way.

The experience made me more open to getting to know people – to caring. Caring is the simplest act of love, but it begs the question, ‘What can I do to help?’ The Bible says we are to bear each other’s burdens and to do so is the law of Christ! (Galatians 6:2) When we become members of the church, we commit our presence – our caring – to one another. I know if the bottom dropped out on me that I have people at St. Mark’s. I am their ‘people,’ too.  That’s a church home to me.”