Two videos today… the first is a longer movie, featuring the highlights and hilarity of trying to open mom’s Easter basket (It was filled with scented nail polish, tube socks, and tapioca pudding. Before you judge, know it is EXACTLY the type of Easter baskets we used to get as kids. In fact my favorite Easter ever I got candy, underwear and the Michael Jackson Thriller album.) And with coloring Easter eggs.
The second video is great…cleaning up the Easter egg coloring mess while singing, “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.” The very end of this video is PRICELESS! I won’t ruin the surprise…
BAD, BAD, LEROY BROWN
Visited my mom for dinner tonight. Here’s the highlight:
Me: Mom, today is April 13th.
Mom: I’m eating my potatoes, Matt.
Me: Yesterday was April 12th. Do you know what happened on April 12th?
Mom: I layed down in my bed.
Me: What else?
Mom: I layed down in my bed and pulled up the covers.
Me: Yes, that happened yesterday April 12th. What happened a long time ago on April 12th? In the past?
Mom: (10 second pause) You were born.
Me: Right! So if I was born on April 12th, and yesterday was April 12th, then what does that make yesterday?
Mom: Your birthday. Yesterday was your birthday.
Me: What do you say when it’s someone’s birthday?
Mom: Happy birthday to you Matt. Happy birthday to you Matt.
Me: Thanks Mom.
Mom: You’re welcome Matt.
(10 second pause)
Mom: I’m eating my potatoes Matt.
I’m in my kitchen on Good Friday, I’m boiling eggs, and thinking about my mom. I always think about my mom on Good Friday. I was born on Good Friday, and every year my mom and I would talk about that day. In that way I had two special days every year, one was birthday, and the other was Good Friday.
I didn’t talk to my mom today because she was sleeping when I called. I did get a voicemail from the speech therapist who told me mom was doing much better on her special diet and using her special cup. She doesn’t have to be monitored as closely at mealtimes. So even though I didn’t get to hear from her, I got to hear about her, and that was good.
But back to boiling eggs. My brother and I are headed to see mom tomorrow and to dye Easter eggs. I bought a dozen Grade A extra large white eggs for the outing, the kind we always used. I ate two for breakfast so we have ten to work with tomorrow.
I honestly can’t remember how long it’s even been since I dyed an Easter egg. Seriously? 15 years…at least? I didn’t even think I’d remember how.
So I started flipping through old pictures and found there was quite a lot I actually remembered…how we’d put down newspaper all over the kitchen table and then put food coloring, water and a little bit of vinegar into coffee mugs. Any other day of the year it seemed like we had waaaay too many coffee mugs in our house for a family of two adults and two kids. Easter egg making time was the one day that there didn’t seem to be enough mugs for all the color creations our brains could come up with. I remembered how we would do a few solid eggs. Then we’d get bored with those and do a few half and half eggs by holding one end in the dye, letting it dry and repeating it in a new color. And I remember how no matter what, Easter egg dying time ended with my brother and I each putting an egg into as many colors as we could and attempting to make the ugliest Easter egg possible.
Some rocking vintage family Easter shots, in anticipation of tomorrow’s big adventure…
My first Good Friday
My second Easter.
My first peep
Sharing my Peeps with my dad
Joey’s first Peep
Easter egg hunting with my brother and cousins
My brother showing off the eggs he found
Easter styling I
Joey’s first Easter basket
Easter styling II
A very 70’s Easter
A constant through the progression of this illness has been my mom dreams. I have very vivid, very real dreams about my mom, and in my dreams she’s never sick. We do things together like take a ride in the car or go to the grocery store. Sometimes we are planning some dinner or a holiday is coming up we are trying to make a to do list. Sometimes we are trying to plan how to meet up with Joey. Just normal stuff you do with your parents.
Sometimes I’m a kid in the dreams. Sometimes I’m an adult. My mom always seems to be about the same age regardless of how I show up. She’s beautiful and shiny and I can hear her voice very clearly. I can recognize her Appalachian twang as she says my name. I can hear her calling to me when I’m in another dream room to ask what I’m doing. I can hear her laughing. All of it is still in there. All of it still in my head when I dream.
I was scared for a while it would disappear. She was either forgetting or not willing to talk about things that had happened in the past. I was so worried I would only remember our struggle, our anger and our frustration as we were trying to cope with Alzheimer’s. Our lives seemed busted up and cracked into a million pieces. And it felt as if the despair of the time was going to seep in and fill each and every one of those cracks till there wasn’t any room for the past. We’d be forced to forget the good stuff because the past and the present could not coexist and us stay sane.
So on one long car trip when my brother and I were driving the 3 1/2 hours to see my mom in her first nursing home, we talked about it. I told my brother I was scared of forgetting the good memories of mom. I was afraid I’d remember what it was like when we were growing up and only be left with the slow progression and the loss. My brother and I agreed that we wouldn’t let that happen. We agreed that we would tell each other the same stories over and over. We’d look at pictures. We’d help each other remember. The idea of this blog was born that day, but took time to evolve.
I also think my really vivid mom dreams started that day. My brain wanted to make little movies so I can remember more than a story or a picture. I could see mental video clips of the person I remember and keep her alive when I need her to give me perspective.
And most recently my mom has been telling me advice in my dreams. It’s advice on things I’ve been wrestling with inside. Some of it is about things I’ve agonized about internally without a clear idea of what to do. Sometimes it’s advising me on things I know but need a push to do. In my dreams lately, she is there and gives empathy, listens, and validates that my decision is the right one.
I guess one way to look at it is that I have two moms. One mom I visit, we take drives, sing songs and drink milkshakes. The other mom shows up predictable, recognizable, listens, and gives me support and advice when I need it. Job sharing moms. We are a very progressive family.
I was tired of singing all oldies all the time a few weeks back, so I flipped through my iPod and found a new song to teach mom…