Thursday, May 15, 2008

Glimpses of good times...

A few nights ago I went out to be with my mother-in-law for a couple of hours so her daughter could go have a late supper. We were both helping out while Dad was out of town. Earlier in the day Vickie had called and said it wasn't a very good day for her Mom so maybe I shouldn't come. But Vickie needed a break-& some supper-so I willing went out for a while.

When I got there, Vickie said things had changed with her mother late in the afternoon and she was no longer quite so confused.

I sat at the table with Bonnie while she ate her supper. Just before eating, she bowed her head, and much to my surprise, said the sweetest little prayer, asking that Jesus be with her and her family. Needless to say, tears filled my eyes. You see...sometimes Mother Thompson cannot even express her feelings in a full sentence, which frustrates her so much and leaves us feeling helpless, often not knowing what she is wanting to say. Memory loss is heart wrenching not only to the one suffering from it, but to all of the family and friends it touches also.

We talked of unimportant things, things that I thought would not bring stress to her mind. She kept telling me how delicious the food was...left overs from our Mother's Day meal. She tried to talk of my grandchildren, and I tried to help her complete sentences that would stop unfinished.

She missed her husband and kept asking where he was. Slowly she ate, every once in a while looking at me and saying "mmmmm...this is good". She must have been hungry. I knew to let her take her time, and she ate every bite on her plate.

Would she like to go for a walk around the yard to see how her flowers are doing? She finally decided she would. Slowly we walked. She would stop to pull a weed, to flick a dried up leaf off of her shrubbery, to admire her beautiful trees. I could see so much that needed to be done and knew that it probably would never happen. In my heart I wanted to put aside time to go out & clean out her flower beds, but also knew that my life was already so busy it was hard to get my own work done. Most of her flowers had been taken over by weeds, but she saw them as they used to be, and it really didn't bother her. We talked about the times she used to spend working in the yard with dear old Sister Dobbs, an old maid from our church that was always bringing a start from her plants to share with Mother Thompson. Sometimes she remembered, sometimes she didn't.

Is soon got dark & chilly & was time to go indoors. She forgot about our little walk & talked of other things. But I remembered.

I remembered the times that my mother-in-law taught me about flower gardening. And the times we went to pick strawberries at the local patches, early in the mornings when the patch would still be wet with dew. There were the times we went to the local farmers produce patches to pick green beans. Then later she brought her huge pressure cooker to teach me how to preserve them. We had also purchased huge heads of cabbage and made sauerkraut, grating up the cabbage on her antique grater. We shared bushels of corn, helped shuck the ears, and both cut off and froze many bags of delicious fresh corn for our families. She shared buckets of tomatoes with me when she had more than she could do herself. Through the years we have preserved many fruits and vegetables...and now it is time to preserve the good memories.

Of course there are the memories that weren't always so good. After all...she is my mother-in-law, and I am her first son's wife! But anymore, those times & memories don't matter. I've always loved her, but now I'm learning to love her all over again, down a pathway we didn't want to have to take. Life brings changes, sometimes making a better person out of us.

Life...please be gentle to Bonnie. Give her good days. Let her remember the good times. Erase the bad ones and let her know we will always love her.


Dorcas said...

Hi Sheila,
I'm Harold K.'s sister and have been reading your blog pretty regularly! This post is very touching!! You see, my Daddy's mind got soo bad and it was so sad to see him get like that. But there were times when he'd be okay and remember things perfectly well. I'll never forget after he was moved out here near me to a local nursing home that we brought him over here for a big part of the day to spend time with my Mother and us. My husband and I were planting our annual flowers as it was in the Spring. Every day almost that we went to the nursing home to visit him he'd ask how my flowers were doing. Now every Spring when I plant my flowers I recollect how he & Mom were sitting on my garden bench watching us and chatting. What good memories I have!!! It's sad about your Mother~in~law. It seems life isn't always fair :o(

Karen Walden said...

Okay...I was sitting her bawling while reading this and Jonathan wanted to know what in the world I was doing!! It is so hard to see Grandma now and know that it really isn't her. We have to remember the good times we had with her, and cherish these days that we still have. Hopefully she will stay sweet and easy to care for, for Grandpa's sake!
He will definitely have extra diamonds in his crown in heaven!!!
You should add a PS to your post about her wanting you to get a drink... That was cute!

Denise said...

Awwww, that is such a sweet, sweet post. And a reminder for us to cherish every moment we have because we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Sheila said...

Dorcas...You had awfully sweet parents & we always enjoyed it when they were in Indiana. It is amazing how flowers seem to bring back memories.

Karen...sorry I made you boo-hoo! You have many good memories of your Grandma. I'm just sorry that the great-grandchildren couldn't enjoy her as she used to be.

Yes...after our walk I asked her if she needed a drink. She looked in the family room, then in the kitchen, & came back in the family room to tell me "I think your mother-in-law wants a drink". I told her that I would get her one & she said no...but that she thought that other woman might want one! And did everybody else want one too??? It was only Bonnie & me...& I'm not sure who else she saw in that room. She does say some funny things at times...& other times-not so funny. (Right, Vickie?)

Nettie's Nook said...

Aunt Bonnie has given us many good memories too. I have some starts of her flowers now in my little garden. She has always been a special woman. If there ever was anyone that has true holiness it is her. Our family loves her very much.

Katressa said...

ANYTIME you need Aunt Bonnies flower beds weeded.Let me know.I'd GLADLY do it.She & Uncle Bob have always done soo much for out family.It would be a pleasure to help out

Lady J said...

Karen isn't the only one who cried over this post. It really touched home since Dad is having one of "those days". I miss my Dad and he isn't physically gone yet but he isn't the same Dad I grew up with.

Sherry Gates said...

What a beautiful post! I have nothing but the utmost respect for Sister Thompson. These things sure make you stop and think! This is a road we may all have to walk someday and my prayer is that we can face it with dignity and the love of God!