Many people over the years have asked me why was I so protective of my mother and why I took the drivers seat in the role of caregiving. The answer for me was simple, I put myself in her place and I felt complete empathy.
Here's an excerpt from our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" now on Amazon Books that may further fill in the blanks.
Elephants never forget, but people do. Like Mama, some people get Alzheimer’s.
I enjoyed Yoga for many years and decided to study and get my degree so I could also teach. The concept of mind, body and spirit is important and helpful. I received two degrees in Yoga, the second one being in “gentle yoga” to help Mama and others like her. When you graduate and become certified, the instructors and Swamis assign you a spiritual name. The name is carefully selected for you based on their understanding of your overall persona. Most students use it when they start teaching. The name given to me was Vinayaka and I loved it.
Vinayaka is a man with an elephants head and he symbolizes overcoming obstacles and was the protector of his mother. How perfect, that was my life story - overcoming obstacles was my middle name! I had obstacles every day when I was a caregiver for Mama. I was very attached to my chosen name. Vinayaka is also another name for Ganesh, a sacred deity. Many people said I was a saint when I was a caregiver, but I just did what came naturally. I learned to overcome many obstacles and was the protector of Mama up until the very end. Maybe it was all something that was just meant to be. Cosmic, Kharmic... call it what you want.
During our nightly exercises with Mama I'd add some Yoga exercises to the mix. It was like when a parent would sneak some vegetables into the meal. I’d add three part breathing, gentle basic poses and sometimes we'd chant the Yogic “OM” mantra. She was a trooper and did the exercises even though she usually didn’t want to do them.
Mama always got a kick out of the chanting because she loved to sing. She preferred show tunes, but who wouldn't? She didn’t know what she was chanting and it always made her laugh. Her laugh was contagious and the three of us couldn't stop laughing. Laughter is one of the things that always helped us overcome our obstacles and that's what this "elephant" will never forget.