Monday Memories WIth My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I can't let the year go by without me and my mom wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!!  I know my mom would appreciate the support you have given me these last few years!!!

Merry Christmas from Mary's Christmas!!
     Truth be told, Christmas was nice and Christmas was difficult... I made some changes in an effort to take some of the pressure off of myself.  For one, I didn't send out cards for the first time -- probably ever.  The sad part is, I actually love sending cards!!!  However, I don't love trying to get three teenagers together for a picture, editing the pic, downloading, putting together and picking up the cards.  Also, although I love writing out cards and envelopes, it is time consuming ,and I can't bring myself to do computer address labels...trying to stay old school with some things!!  I also did not send out cards on my mom's behalf.  I've sent a picture card the last 4-5 years for her because my mom (and I) are "card people" or "Hallmark girls" from back in the day.  Gradually, I have stopped sending her friends cards and now have finally decided to not send Christmas cards.  Maybe I should be "relieved", but instead it just makes me sad -- with a dash of guilt mixed in!!  Ugh! 
     These days, I don't get my mom much in the way of Christmas presents.  That I do not feel guilty about as I know the best gift I can give is the time and efforts I give to keep her safe and healthy.  In that area, I am comfortable saying I do my best and give a lot.  However, I did see this canvas recently while shopping, and I just had to get it for my mom's room.  If there is one short but sweet message I could leave with her on a daily basis -- even when I am not there -- it would be for her to know that she is loved.  Really, it's all any of us wants and the simplest message I could convey...
You are loved....
     It also warms my heart to see a few touches of Christmas from school aged children -- cards and things.  There was also this sweet little Christmas pine cone on her nightstand.  Not sure if she made it or if it was given to her. 
     In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I received a few calls from friends of my moms.  Mostly former co-workers whom I never met.  It has come to my attention that many of the cards addressed to my mom's new nursing community get returned to the sender.  Apparently, there is some large glitch with the senior community address and the post office that causes the cards to be returned without ever reaching the community.  It seems to be hit or miss as she does receive some mail.  Of course, this causes concern for the people sending the cards and then they call me to see if my mom is ok.  How frustrating!  I am going to add that to my list of things to do -- speak with the post office.  (I will give them a break and wait until the holidays are over -- wink, wink!!)
     I'm sure I've mentioned this in previous years, but Christmas Eve has always been the "big day" for my mom's side of the family since I was a baby.  We used to celebrate at my grandparents house, then eventually my mom (a/k/a me) and uncles took it over on a rotating basis.  This was my sixth or seventh time hosting...  To say it is odd hosting a party for your mom's side of the family when your mom is nearby and yet can't safely be there is an understatement.  It hurts.  My mom loved our Christmas Eves and for many years loved to play "Santa", complete with Santa hat.  My brother and I would roll our eyes, and I believe one time we even tried to hide her hat.  There was no stopping her!!  She served as a liaison and organized a fairly complicated color coded system of gift giving so that we would all be included.  In my younger days, Santa came to the streets of Detroit and showed up at my grandparents with a bundle of gifts for all of us kids.  We would stare out the window waiting and waiting...  Lots of memories and good times.  My brother and I probably remember it most as we are the oldest of the grandkids.
     So, if I'm being honest, this Christmas Eve was particularly bittersweet...  Trying to do my part to keep the family and our traditions together.  A role my mom used to be a big part of that sometimes seem to have fallen on me.  There are people missing from this picture including my grandparents and, most importantly, my mom. 
     Yet, despite the circumstances of who goes where and when and why, I can assure you my mom would choose to be there no matter what.  She would have embraced our "Ugly Sweater" theme this year and would have definitely been a contender for the "Grand Prize".  So it is with her spirit and mine that we do our best to carry on the tradition and hopefully spread some joy along the way!!!  There is no stopping the fun and lots of laughs!!!!
Christmas Eve - Tradition Style!!
      Then, on Christmas Day my brother made a visit to my mom's complete with an icee drink and our family's traditional German springerle cookies -- made by my brother!!!!  Talk about Christmas miracles!!!  My brother got my grandma's recipe and rolling pin from me and made a big batch of the cookies -- and they were very good!!  I am impressed!!!
      A bit later on Christmas Day my husband, kids and I all headed over to visit with my mom.  We brought one small gift and took her to the café area of the building for a change of scenery.  We found a nice quiet table by the window, talked with grandma and gave her the gift.  On this day, she was not able to come up with any of our names, except mine. 
     It was a challenge to get my mom to open her gift.  I think she was a bit overwhelmed with all of us visiting at the same time.  However, after lots of coaxing and help, my mom finally was able to open her gift .
     In the end, I think she was glad she prevailed.  A box of Sanders (made in Detroit) caramel chocolates awaited.  She enjoyed all three of the chocolates she had during our visit.  A reminder that it's the little things. 
     I continue to learn and be reminded that Christmas is about His love.  We show our love for Him by selflessly and peacefully continuing to spread His joy!!!
May Peace and Joy Be With You,
Joy Can Be Spread in Many Ways...Big and Small





Beth said...

Such a sweet post, Cindy. You do a great job caring for your family and your mom, and keeping Christmas traditions going. You are one special lady!!!

Julia said...

What a beautiful post with a powerful message. You have a beautiful family and your Mom looks pampered.
Happy New Year.
Big hugs.


yaya said...

Sometimes paring down helps us see the most important things. You did great showing your love for your family. Your Mom looks content and safe...most importantly...she is loved. I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Jennifer said...

Can we get an update here????? ;)