Looking the Other Way . . .
By Marileigh on December 22, 2010
(Mom's 90th birthday party)
I spent the first 6 years of Mom decline into Alzheimer's in denial. Big denial. I knew in my head that things were going downhill quickly, but my heart couldn't grasp hold of it. When I'd try to utter a word about her decline I would quickly retreat in my cave. It scared me. I wanted my Mom back.
Mom and I were very close. We did a lot together, one of which was shopping. I never liked to shop, but when I was with Mom I loved it. One stop we especially enjoyed was the fabric store. Mom was a seamstress and could literally make anything, with or without a pattern. Of us girls, only two of us inherited her gift of sewing. From the age 12, I was designing and sewing my own clothing. Mom took great care in teaching me techniques. I went through junior high and senior high wearing clothes I made, or Mom made for me. Mom would even knit sweaters for me wear that matched a pair of slacks or a skirt I had made. When I think back on that time I get teary eyed. I miss my Mom and I so want her back.
I remember the first time I saw a difference in Mom. Something in her behavior wasn't right. It was the first Thanksgiving after Dad died. We we all came home for the holiday to be together. Mom was out of sorts. In the past she had always prepared the meal and wanted no help in her kitchen. That year she let two of us girls do everything. Her memory was off a bit. Something wasn't right, but we all assumed it had something to do with it being the first holiday after dad died.
This time of year I miss baking and cooking with Mom. Mom had a collection of Christmas cookies she made every year. Then there was the fudge, fruit cake, and the Lane cake. Now i carry on the tradition and bake it all for her. My fudge never came out as well as hers and still doesn't. On Christmas we traditionally have Chicken n' Dumplings. Making dumplings with Mom is something I have passed on to my own children. It's our favorite meal and we all look forward to sharing table fellowship and eating Mom's Chicken n' Dumplings.
These days Mom isn't able to remember the fun festivities we all shared around Christmas. It breaks my heart, but at the same time there is humor in it too. I had fudge sitting on the kitchen counter along side a tin filled with homemade dog biscuits Yes, Mom ate the dog biscuits and commented to me how delicious they were. Now clearly it was OK to eat them, but the question is why? The fudge I made for her was sitting right there. She sees all the lights on all the houses and asks me about them every time we leave the house. Mom has no memory of putting up lights and decorations for Christmas. It's hard for me to think about this.
You see, my Mom did it up big for Christmas. The tree was picture perfect. The presents under the tree were often all decorated in the same wrapping paper. One year she did a frosted tree and it was so pretty, but us girls wanted a green one too, so Mom up put a live green tree in the upstairs loft. In the evening we'd sit around the tree while Mom read to us the Christmas story.
I miss my Mom so much. I miss her spirit. I miss her devotion to her family. I miss long talks with her about faith and her trust in God for all things. I miss being able to tell her anything and know she would listen with an open heart, embracing me, never judging. My Mom taught me so much and I am so blessed to have had her as my Mother. So blessed.
I hate Alzheimer's . . .
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