We have some rituals that have just sort of happened over the past few years. Things like milkshakes, car rides, putting gas in the car, going to the store, and washing the car. Most started because I’d bring mom along while I ran my errands. They were usually the same errands, like going to the car wash, so over time, an errand became a ritual.
Now the rituals are really important because they are easy and familiar for mom. When I say we are going to get the car washed, she knows where we are going and what that entails. And I know how long it takes so I can purposefully put together an agenda of our errands and know how long our outings will be.
But the other thing our rituals do is allow me to watch and chart where there is decline because I see mom in the same situation over and over, month after month.
The car wash is a great example. Early in the illness, we’d go to the car wash and I could never get mom to stay in the car. I’d have to constantly keep an eye on her because she’d open the door and try to come out with me. Once I remember she opened the door just when I was spraying soap on the passenger side and it went all over her and all over the car. She had soap in her hair and running down her face and she just sat there with the door open spitting soap.
Over time she stopped wanting to get out of the car, and was content to stay in and rock back and forth singing to the radio. And when I’d walk around her side of the car, she’d knock on the window and smile and wave to me.
Now she mostly sits in the car and listens to the radio. She waves and smiles, but mostly after I wave first.
And usually I can still get her to get out and help me sweep the car. Last week when we were sweeping the car I was kneeling on the passenger seat vacuuming the floor and I felt something pulling on my clothes. I guess my underwear was sticking put because mom was pulling up my jeans and pulling my tshirt down. When I looked over my shoulder at her she said, “I’m fixing your clothes.”
Still finding ways to help!