Sunday, May 12, 2013

Smiles Make a Difference

What Sunshine is to Flowers, Smiles are to Humanity. ~Joseph Addison
 
Today was Mother's Day. A beautiful time to remember Moms everywhere. It was a sad day for some who were missing a mom gone on before them. I still have my mother, but she's not the mother I've known all my life. Dementia has stolen her memories and joy in living. It's hard for her to get up and down. Hard for her to walk. Hard for her to understand the confusing world she now lives in where people tell her she's at home when she knows she's not. She wants the homes of old, not this one where she's lived for thirty years but now can't remember where the bathroom is. 
 
My mother always enjoyed life. Whatever life threw at her, she managed to keep smiling and doing whatever needed to be done. The smiles are harder to come by now, but they can make such a difference in her day. To her and even more to me.
 
Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give. So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world. - Lawrence G. Lovasik  
 
Mom has gotten a lot worse the last few months. She's often unhappy, often agitated, often wishing to go home to see her mother who has been gone for almost forty years. The other day when Mom was having an unhappy time, my sister asked her how old she was and she said, "Sixteen." Well, no wonder she thinks her mother will be upset if she stays out all night. It's no wonder she looks at her hands and rubs and rubs them thinking they are "dirty." Those age spots and wrinkled skin are not supposed to be there. And no wonder she doesn't know me some of the time. She didn't have children when she was sixteen.
 
She doesn't always think she's sixteen. She jumps around to lots of different ages, but very rarely thinks about being ninety-three. Sometimes she wonders why her husband never comes home. Sometimes she worries about the children. She needs to be taking care of them. If I tell her I am her daughter, Ann, she will look at me as though that's the craziest thing she can imagine or perhaps say she means that "other Ann," the younger one.
 
Then there are times when she does know who I am, and we can find reasons to smile. Like getting our hair curled. Like watching America's Funniest Home Videos, one of the few TV shows that she'll watch. She likes the little children on there. Sometimes, we can watch Curious George because they have clips of kids doing things. And she'll watch golf. Not sure why except that Daddy used to like to watch golf.
 
So we take it day by day. At times, five minutes at a time in hopes that the next five minutes will be better. And we try to squeeze in a few smiles now and again.
  "The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions -- the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment."  Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 
Did you share some smiles with your mother today - in life or maybe in your memory? Smiles don't have to be hoarded away. The more we give away, the more we get in return. 
 
 

4 comments:

  1. So sad that your Mom has to go through this and for you too, you are a good daughter to always treat her with such care. My Mom has been gone awhile and memories are so sweet, I used to curl her hair after washing and we would sit at kitchen table and talk...thank God she had wonderful memory right up to the end and no wrinkles-beautiful skin, I think it was because she always drank water and no soda's.
    Paula O

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    1. Mom went to the hairdressers for years, but then after she broke her hip last summer it was too hard for her to go. So I bought some curlers and it looks okay. I don't do a very good job cutting hair, but I give it a try. Paula, your mother must have worn bonnets or hats to keep the sun off. But water is good too. I can do that part, but would hate to wear bonnets. That's why I always have my Shaker heroines wanting to be rid of those pesky bonnets. LOL.

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  2. Wow. What a lovely post. I, too, am deep in the throes of elder-care. Even though dementia isn't the issue for any of the five 90+ folks in our family, there are plenty of challenges. It's a tough season of life. It sounds like you're handling it well...hang in there!

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    1. Nancy, the good part of being a caregiver for so many elderly folks in your family is that you have good genes and can look forward to perhaps living a nice, long life too. There are definitely challenges in growing older. Most of all the sense of disbelief that our bodies are failing us and we can't run and jump and do the things we used to do. My mom with her dementia is surprised every time she can't get out of her chair without help. I appreciate your kind thoughts and good wishes. I'm trying to hang in there.

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