Mother’s Day reminds me . . .
With Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I was thinking of my Mom. I remembered a very special Mother’s Day when I was able to give her a gift she really loved. I thought it was childish and was a bit embarrassed when I presented it to her.
Buy Mom a gift . . .
Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia for a year or two – and it was a LATE diagnosis. Mother’s Day was coming up, and I really wanted to get something nice for Mom. However, it was so difficult to choose a gift! She had lost interest in painting and drawing and so many other hobbies she once had.
I found a little book for Mother’s Day. It had printed quotes and pictures throughout, but it had pages for me to fill in with memories I had about my childhood with my Mom. It felt like something a teen might buy – really inexpensive, no big deal, really. I set aside some time over the coming days to write in the book and get it ready for Sunday, Mother’s Day.
Mom had been a different person for years . . .
Alzheimer’s had changed Mom’s personality over the years. She had become paranoid, distrusting, and very sharp with angry words. My daily interactions with Mom were more difficult than they ever had been in my life.
Mom was a very intelligent, creative person who cared deeply for her family and worked to help others in the community. When she began having pronounced short-term memory loss, it was irritating to have to respond to the same question over and over. As she became paranoid, I lost my patience many times trying to help her see logic and discern the truth about a given situation. Nobody had told me that logic was long-gone, and I needed to redirect her attention instead of arguing.
Honestly, I was really angry about my mother’s absence – mental, not physical. I had four young children, and I really needed her wise counsel.
Just write in the book . . .
I put my needs aside, and began filling out the book to get it ready for Mother’s Day. Each page I filled in brought back wonderful memories, and I wrote about them. The memories were of everyday things: cookies Mom would bake, Sunday Dinners she made, holidays with fine china and crystal, and going with her to art classes and painting with the adults.
This stupid little book gave me back my mother! There were so many tears while I wrote on those pages (and now as I write this post). MAKING me go back in time to that person she was and the wonderful home she created for us helped me come to terms with my anger.
Alzheimer’s was no longer this daily obstacle for me. Now, I could reach out and get wise counsel about how to cope with the repetitive conversations, her agitation, her paranoia. It was a turning point for me as a caregiver.
On Mother’s Day . . .
I wrapped the completed book and gave it to Mom on Mother’s Day at lunchtime during a special meal I had made for the eight of us. She unwrapped it and gave it a glance or two, and put it in her purse. That was fine. I had received so much in the writing I did in the book, it didn’t matter if Mom every noticed or not. It was a lame gift anyway! Right?
Dad took me aside a few days later, and told me Mom had read through that little book over and over and over. About a week later, Dad gave me a letter from Mom (they were at my house every day, but I’m sure Mom didn’t remember having written the letter). It was a THREE-PAGE Thank You note for that little book. She had written about so many of the pages I filled out, and shared her memories, too. Her long-term memories were still in-tact, but it was difficult to reach them. Her reading of the book triggered lots of similar feelings for her.
I can’t even explain how big a deal this Mother’s Day was for Mom and me. It was an incredible way to reconnect, and I’ll never forget it.
Treasure your parents while you have them – arguments and agitation and all.