Dear Family and Friends,
Mother’s Day was always a pretty special day during my childhood … partly because my mom always made sure we understood the axiom, “If mom isn’t happy, ain’t no one happy.”
So making her Mother’s Day a happy one was a priority! Now that she is gone, I love to think about some of the silly things we did to achieve that goal….and she always appreciated whatever it was.
Truthfully, of course, my mom was the critical household engine, the face of our family to the world, and the reason we could all find things to eat and wear every morning. Don’t get me wrong: we all had chores, but she also made sure we learned how to do the things that would one day make our own households run smoothely while we also made our ways in the working world.
My husband’s mother, Natalie, also raised four children, and for many years, her husband was out of town during the week as a travelling sales person. Thus, she did a lot of it on her own. And my sweet husband, as helpful as he is around the house as an adult (actually, he does almost as much as I do), was the baby of the family as a child. I hear stories from his sisters about how his mom started his mornings by putting a huge stack of toast in front of him as he stumbled in from his bedroom.
Of course, Natalie (I call her Mom) is now in her 13th year of living with Alzheimer’s and she is no longer able to take care of anyone, even herself. Yet celebrating her special day is very important to her children. We all want to honor her, and remind her how much we love her and appreciate the years and years of daily sacrifices she made for us.
I was reading an article today (http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2012/05/idea_on_making_the_most_on_mot.html) that offered some great tips. The author suggested using music and photographs as a way to connect with Mom. She also suggested going outside if the weather is nice…often, those living in nursing homes or otherwise limited in their ability to enjoy the outdoors truly appreciate a soft breeze of fresh air on their cheeks and the scent of spring flowers.
The author also cautions against overstimulation, which can sometimes upset someone with a memory disorder. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate celebration to be meaningful…in fact, just your presence can be what Dad or Mom really wants.
David’s Mom loves hot fudge sundaes, so we always stop by Dairy Queen on the way to visit her. She doesn’t smile much any more, or make any kind of facial expressions, but you often hear a little sigh in her voice as she takes each bite.
Those moments — moment of joy — are our goal. As the disease progresses, the Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to connect memories and ideas. Thus, with Mom, we try to find little things we can do to bring little moments of happiness. Her tiny smile, or lifting of her head to look at us, is enough.
I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day.