wrinkled hands, one on top of the other

Waiting for God

 May 31, 2022

Mom stood there, holding onto her walker, agitated, afraid, lost, unwilling to sit down.

“Sit down, Mom. We’re fixing snacks,” I tell her but she doesn’t sit down.

“Where am I?” she repeats. When I try to explain, she keeps saying, “I don’t understand.”

I tell her, “We’re at Vista,” Mom’s retirement community. However it was a room she wasn’t familiar with, the room my sister had reserved for the weekend.

Mom insists on leaving. I follow her out and ask her if she would like to go to her apartment. She says no but refuses to stay. I walk down the hall with her, pointing to familiar sights. Only once she reaches the elevator and the long hallway leading from the elevator to the community room (the Grande room), a path she trod most days, was she able to orient herself. Then she was willing to come back to the room where we enticed her with cheese, crackers, salami, prosciutto, pistachio nuts, blueberries, chocolate, and wine.

Waiting for Godot

I believe I read Waiting for Godot in the past, back when I was in high school and had the time to appease my voracious appetite for reading with anything and everything. I don’t remember the play but I do remember the concept. I’m big on concepts.

Boredom. Waiting. Nothing happening as the characters waited for this person named Godot. Was life just an eternal waiting room? What a dreadful thought to my adolescent mind.

I was young and full of energy, except for that time when I decided I was going to train myself to get by on less sleep so I could have more hours in the day, staying up late while I read.

Foolish me. I managed on seven hours, but when I cut my sleep time to six hours, I lost more than I gained as I was unable to function, much like my mom. Now I grasp any extra sleep I can.

I think about Godot as I watch my mom wander aimlessly down the halls of the retirement community, looking for what she doesn’t remember.

Why Doesn’t God Take Me?

In the past when Mom would ask me “why doesn’t God take me?” I would refuse to listen, telling her if she needed to talk to a counselor, talk to a counselor. I was her daughter, not her counselor. There was only so much I could handle.

Of course, Mom also had another agenda with her question. I’ve known Mom to be a “crepe-hanger” always dressing everyday events in her life with black crepe paper. She was good at finding the negative in a situation and engaging in pity parties.

Her question at the time was an invitation to get me into the pity party pool with her, something I refused to do. It also was an attempt to guilt me into doing more than I was already doing, more than I could do without burning out over the long haul. I was in this for the long haul and so I couldn’t afford to let myself be burned out by every request my mom had.

Like so many older residents at the retirement community where I had formerly served as chaplain, as she sunk further into dementia and the trials of aging, she became suddenly incapable of doing things she did with no problem when her children weren’t around.

Regression. A normal part of the aging process as we grow closer to death. We want to be taken care of and not by just anyone, but by family. Who was I to deny my mother this small comfort? But piled on day after day over the past ten years was a recipe for burn-out and abandoning the care receiver when they need you most.

Now when Mom says, “why doesn’t God take me?” I just say, “I don’t know. I guess it’s not your time.” Seems to work.

Waiting for Mom

This past week my mom had one of her many doctor appointments. She called me at 9:30.

“Do you want me to meet you in the circle driveway?”

“Yes. I’ll be there around quarter to ten.”

I arrived a few minutes after quarter to ten expecting her to be waiting at the front door. No-one there. I go inside, leaving my car running in the circle drive. No one in the lobby. I call her. Three times.

Maybe she had to use the bathroom, a ten-minute proposition if she needed to change her depends which required her taking off her pants, which required her taking off her shoes, and then putting everything back on. Maybe that was the hold-up. Or perhaps she had run into someone in the hallway and lost track of time while she chatted. Or had simply forgot. Each had happened before. I park the car and go inside.

On the elevator I’m joined by one of the maintenance men. He asks me how it’s going.

My response, “Not so good. I can’t find my mom.”

“I just saw her. She’s down by the café, by the back circle drive.”

Going in Circles

I thank him, go back outside, drive to the circle drive behind the building and go up to the door. Locked. I don’t see Mom waiting for me so I drive back to the front door, go in, debating whether to see if Mom had gone back to her room or to go through the building to the back door. I see the maintenance man coming down the hallway.

“She’s outside waiting. I told her not to go anywhere.”

Back in the car to the back of the building where Mom is staring off in the opposite direction from the circle drive.

“Mom, have I ever picked you up at the back circle drive?”


“Then why did you think I was going to pick you up here today?”

“I don’t know.” A common response from Mom.

“I was here before. Didn’t you see me?”

“I didn’t know what your car looked like.” A legitimate response as I was driving a rental car, after a tree limb had landed on my car.

“I was here by the door. Didn’t you recognize me?”

No response.

Waiting for God

There are good days and not so good days as my mom waits for God and I wait with her. I’ve come to accept—the Mom I remember from my growing years is already gone. Every now and then I get a glimpse of her but it’s easier on me if I don’t expect it. God has already taken the best of her. It’s a matter of time when God will take the rest.

In the meantime, I continue as best I can, waiting for God.

Are you in a waiting pattern? How do you cope as you wait for God?

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