Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blog 18: The Last of Everything

While I was living with Mom, I didn't realize that the Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2009, and her 74th birthday and Easter of 2010, would be the last ones spent in her home.  I didn't know how quickly things were going to change. 

For the holidays, the house was always so full of people, with all of Mom's daughters and their families.  Not everyone was there that last Christmas, as some of my nieces and nephews weren't there, and two of my kids and their families were unable to make it back.  My son and daugher-in-law had just had a baby and my oldest daughter and her husband were expecting their second child soon.  They all live quite a distance away.  I will talk about that in my next post.

This is Mom sitting in her rocking chair, admiring her tree, while we wait for the family to arrive on Christmas day. This image of her is embedded in my memory.  

The house was busting at the seams with the ones who were there.  Mom's house was small, and with the births of our kids' kids, the family was growing by leaps and bounds.  There was never a dull moment...or an empty seat to sit in. As soon as someone got out of their seat, it was taken, unless you could bribe one of the kids to sit in it and hold it for you.  

There was something that felt different about this Christmas.  Tension was mounting between me and my sisters as the stress of Mom's alzheimer's was getting to us. We tried to go about the holiday as usual and we opened presents and ate a nice dinner.  Like all the other holidays, the women always enjoyed sitting or standing around the dining room table, while the men sat in the living room watching sports on the television.  Ocassionally we would join the men or they would come to the dining room and join us.  The kids had fun playing with their cousins, and all in all, it was a pretty nice Christmas.  With all the voices and commotion, it could get pretty noisy.

My sisters and I were aware that Mom couldn't handle that much activity and noise for very long, so we made sure everyone cleared out as soon as Mom showed some signs that she'd had enough.  Normally Mom did very well, and enjoyed the company. But with her dementia, understandably, it was hard for her with all of the activity and stimulation.

After everyone left that Christmas day, I cleaned up the house.  Mom went to bed and I sat with her on the edge of her bed and we said our nightly prayer together.  Then I went to the living room and sat down and looked at the tree and wondered if we would have another Christmas in our family home.  I was hoping we would.  I thought of those early Christmases when we were kids and how Mom made them so magical.  If you read Blog 2, I spoke of those Christmases when we were kids.   

When Easter came, everyone came over and we spent much of our time outside.  Our family always enjoyed hiding Easter eggs for the kids and then the kids would hide them for the adults to find.  The adults were so competitive on those egg hunts and the kids knew it and tried to find the most unusual hiding spots.  We also had a hula hoop contest and my 13 year old neice and I could hula forever.  I was still able to hula with three hoops, probably could have done more if we had them.  It was funny seeing my great neices and nephews try to figure out how to do it.  We couldn't get Mom on the hula hoop.

We sat with Mom on her back patio and took turns rocking with her on her swing.  Mom was wrapped in a blanket and she seemed to enjoy the day very much.  It was our last Easter together in Mom's house, but we didn't know it at the time.  I wonder if we knew, how would things have been different?  Would we have done anything differently?

I took pictures on those special days.  I was always the one to have my camera on hand to capture those candid shots.  There were the typical complaints when I tried to gather everyone up for a group picture.  It was usually a big struggle to get them to cooperate.  Because of my efforts, we now have photos of Mom and us girls together.  I couldn't help it, I've always been a picture person and I believe in capturing memories in photos.   I told my sisters they will thank me for it someday...and I think the time has come that they wish they would have appreciated it more than they did.  It's a good thing I took those pictures then because we will probably never have another family group picture taken again.


  1. It's good we can't see into the future. I sure wouldn't want to have known what I'm living now.

    Good that you took the pictures.....

  2. This post made me cry... Thinking about those memories.