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.