Medical advances have yielded a tremendous understanding of the intricacies of our bodies, and yet, we have limited understanding of the soul’s interaction with the body. The exploration of the soul is a voyage that I had begun to consider, but never so deeply, as when my mother was diagnosed with dementia. The Universe is always teaching and provides us with the option to learn.
There are various ways that one experiences the end-of-life transition. For some, it is as instant as the bullet from a passing car; for others, it takes place in days, weeks, months, or even years. Watching my mother transition in inches was uniquely painful. However, I was always inspired as I witnessed Mother harness her soul’s power. The way she resisted being dragged away without opposition had a magnificence that defied explanation. Witnessing my mother’s valor has caused me to appreciate who she is. She made a daily decision to fight. I am left to ponder if I would be as worthy an opponent of dementia.
I regularly witness her searching a once-familiar face for a glimmer of recognition or grasping to make sense of a whisp of a memory, and there is always that spark of resistance in her gaze that defies defeat. There are moments in our journey through dementia when I have seen her momentarily reclaim regions of her brain that dementia seemed to have hopelessly tangled. Through the years of struggling with dementia, Mother still retained that quality that I have come to respect as feist.
My mother’s need for her independence was so deeply embedded in her brain that even when she was being taken care of when either a family member or a caregiver was doing the entire thing, mom affirmed that she was operating “under her own steam.” Conversations that began like, “Mom, let me wash your hair,” were always met with, “I wash my own hair!” Eventually, we understood that a more productive approach was, “Mom, let me help you wash your hair.” It has been like that with almost every area of her life. She needed to feel like she was the independent doer. When those who loved her became clear about that, everyone’s interactions with her proceeded more smoothly.
My sister and I would agree that accompanying Mother through the journey of dementia, which also included glaucoma, has been a formidable challenge and a great blessing. While acquiring Ph.D. patience and humility, we drew upon faith in ways that caused the exploration of each of our souls. We will not emerge from this journey unscathed. This journey is soul growth. I truly believe that an equivalent blessing accompanies every difficulty.
In my twenties, when I sought to understand my purpose in life, a mentor directed me to Higher Power for Hidden Problems, a book written in 1957 by metaphysician Fredrick Bailes. The quote that rose from the pages to grab me was, “We are where we are by right of consciousness.”
That book launched me into exploring how our souls have different expressions and missions to accomplish in our earthly journeys.
We have watched my mother make decisions that make no sense to us but loudly proclaim to those with eyes to see that she still reigns in her body. She still exercises control over how she will engage with us and how much longer she will choose to take this journey. Amidst our fixation with the natural world, our mother teaches us that our souls are sovereign every day.
During this COVID19 scourge, we have witnessed friends lose their loved ones while prevented, due to coronavirus regulations, from comforting them in their final hours. During my last visit with my mother, I was able to whisper into her ear, “Mommy, I am so proud to be your daughter.” and to thank her for the courage and grace she has shown during her struggle with dementia and blindness.
My experience with death has been minimal. Only once before have I personally witnessed the day-to-day fear of the impending death of a loved one. Watching dementia take bits of my tower-of-strength mother was one that allowed me to conclude that despite life’s appearances, our souls are sovereign.
On Monday, April 19, 2021, the ninety-first birthday of her devoted husband, Wayne Lambert, the soul of Sarah Lambert decided to return to Spirit. Sarah, whose name in Hebrew means princess or noblewoman, is now at peace among the ancestors.
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Broken Dolls, Susan’s second book, represents her foray into the mystery market and is the first of a series featuring Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. Her most recent publication is Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Her work is featured in three anthologies, Baring It All, the Ins and Outs of Publishing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours, a contemporary romance anthology, and The Anthology of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.