Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Of Trees and Elves

Mom and Lyn are attending Mass early on Sundays instead of on Saturday evenings because Lyn was starting to panic with how dark it was after the late afternoon Mass.  By going so early, they have plenty of time to run errands, do an activity and stop for lunch before coming home for our Skype conversation.  On Sunday, they filled their morning with a visit to the convention center to view the Festival of Trees.

The trees are an annual event and one which Lyn enjoys attending.  It is low key but filled with plenty of pretty sparkle to entertain her.  This year, she was excited about the tree inspired by the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.  It was simple, bright and cheery.

She was confused by the tree inspired by a wedding cake.

I suspect the tulle and the monochromatic approach doesn't give her enough contrast to appreciate it.  Remember, vision fails with Alzheimer's.

One of the other reasons she likes going, possibly the main reason really, is that Santa will be there in person.  The advertisements for the event announce he will be in attendance and she knows she'll be able to get a hug in.

She was nearly bouncing with her excitement in telling me about seeing Santa.  She told him about the blog and he promised to read it.  He told her to put her arm around him and, of course, she did!

Honestly, I wonder sometimes what the actors are able to piece together when they encounter someone like Lyn.  Like Cinderella in Disney, his job is to make someone happy and he never knows just what will happen.

To all the Santas who have made her and countless others smile over the years, thank you.  Your rosy cheeks, snowy beards, and patient, cheerful disposition have kept the very large Elf alive for her.  You're a crucial part of her Christmas and have never failed to bring the magic.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Processing Santa

Lyn viewed her video message from Santa several times over the past few days and loves it.  Upon watching it the first time, she immediately wanted to call our Uncle in Tennessee to tell him about it.  He lives just about 10 miles from Gatlinburg and has been dealing with the impact of the wild fires there.  He was happy to have a call which was so upbeat and excited.

Lyn no longer realizes that I am behind the videos.  To her, they really are pure magic now.  Last year, she was still in on the game, even saying "...you KNOW!  You sent it!"  This year, there was no connection between her receipt of the video any anything I may have done.  In Lyn's reality, Santa really did send her the message.  He really looked for her file and his team made the decision that she was on the Nice list.

She wondered how he got the picture of her and the picture with me.  Mom assured Lyn it was "Christmas magic" and she agreed with "Must be!"  She also has no firm grasp on time or how quickly things can be shared electronically.

I have the option of the outcome being Naughty or Nice.  I cannot imagine how much it would hurt her to have Santa declare that she was on the Naughty list.  If she was able to process a joke and really understand that I was just playing, then maybe.  A Naughty list video could be done for Mom and she would get it.  Lyn would just be crushed.  There's no fun to be had in that which is why last week's post indicated that Santa had made a wise decision.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Santa's Wise Choice

The Portable North Pole has come through again.  Lyn's annual message is ready for her to view.

This is part of the reason for the photo with Santa that I had done.

Mom showed Lyn yesterday's blog.  Her only reaction was to comment that it was a nice picture before wandering off.  Ah well... maybe she'll like it more when she gets the print out.  At least I'm pretty sure she's going to be excited about the video.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My First Santa

For many years now, Lyn has gotten at least one annual picture with Santa.  Sometimes, she gets multiple pictures.  Santa remains a beloved person in Lyn's life.  She gets excited when she sees him. She wants to hug him and talk to him.  All of this was playing through my head when I saw the Santa display at my local mall earlier this week. 

It was early morning, the shops had just opened.  I was in line to get at hot tea after making some quick purchases.  Santa was just getting settled and, as I watched, it hit me that I could not recall ever having a picture taken with Santa.  I jumped out of line and marched over to him before I could think twice.  There was no line.  Had there been, I probably would not have done it.

Santa was surprised as I came around to his seat and asked if I could take a picture with him, explaining that I wanted to send it to my sister.  He thought it was a bit of a prank for her until I explained that she has Early On-set Alzheimer's and Santa is one of the few people she gets excited over still.  "This is a special picture then!" he said and quickly got positioned.  

The photographer took several shots and we quickly decided on the one below.

I made my selection of the image and the prints, hurriedly thanked Santa and the photographer and went to pay.  I tried to be discreet as I wiped a tear away.  (Don't ask.  Sometimes those onion chopping ninjas strike even in public.)  The young woman manning the register saw the movement and asked if I was OK.  (GAH!  The dust...)  I wasn't sad; just emotional.  I explained that my sister with Alzheimer's loves Santa and the picture is for her.  She was hit by the onions and dust too.  

The picture is being sent to Lyn and has been incorporated into her video message from the Portable North Pole.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

She Defines Giving

Mom always wanted to be a mother.  She wanted a big family and pictured herself raising six kids.  She has long been the type of person who could give and love, knowing it is often a job which goes unrecognized or unappreciated.  At an early age, she helped her parents care for her four siblings, often doing the cooking and cleaning.  When she married, she had hoped for the happily ever after but found that three children and having to become a single parent was the reality.  She raised us without support or involvement from our father.  When Lyn and I graduated from high school, Mom and Lyn returned to Mom's childhood home to care for my Grandmother after my Grandfather passed.

Today, Mom is "retired" but still caring for Lyn.  This is a common situation for parents of the intellectually disabled.  Mom is still building her daily schedule around Lyn's needs; even today which is Mom's birthday.

Mom will spend today making sure that Lyn's needs are met, errands are run, and chores completed.  My hope for her is that one day, she won't have to take care of another person or worry about another's schedule before doing what she wants.  I hope that she'll be able to enjoy a glass of wine without a glare or to do the things in her bucket list which she's not supposed to have according to Lyn.

Today, I hope Mom knows how much I love her and appreciate her.  I had no clue what efforts she extended for each of us until I had my own children and I had no idea how much more she was willing to give until then.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Budding Artist

On Sunday, Lyn asked if she could make me a painting of a cross.  I wasn't sure I heard the question correctly and asked for clarification.  She repeated that she wants to paint a cross for me.  It would be nothing fancy.  She thought it would be nice and wasn't sure why I won't like it.  I'm used to not always knowing what's going on in her mind (or the minds of my kids for that matter) and can usually fill in enough to successfully see what happens.  So, I assured her that I appreciated her desire to make me something and that I will like it no matter what she paints for me.

The "no matter what" portion is pretty key here.  She apparently feels the need to paint a religious symbol for me.  I am not religious, having stepped away from it long ago.  She knows I am not a regular church goer but doesn't understand why.  With a bit of an increasing frequency, she has felt the urge to remind me that God loves me and she thinks I need to go back to church.  I appreciate her thinking of and being concerned about me.  Honestly.

When the conversation started, I didn't know what she meant by "paint a cross."  She has gone to pottery studios many times over the years and painted items which have then been glazed.  I currently store my earrings in one of her pottery creations.  As a result, I thought she meant she was going to paint a ceramic cross for me.  I was wrong.

Lyn's Community Access provider has been introducing Lyn to painting on canvas.  Lyn loves it and has done four paintings to date.  She's very happy with the results of her painting and is wanting to share.

I have no idea if Lyn will actually paint a cross for me or not.  I am just happy that the person who works with her for Community Access support is so good to and with her.  I am happy she is enjoying their activities and time together.  Lyn loves creating things and her provider is letter her explore crafting with things she has not done before.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Drive Thru

On Sunday, Mom and Lyn went out to run some errands.

They went to a shopping center they have visited for years.  Several times, Lyn asked if they were going a new way.  They were not.  She just no longer recognizes her way around town with increasing frequency.  Once at the shopping center, Lyn asked if they were in a new store.  They were not.

On the way home, Lyn pulled out one of her subtle tactics.  She doesn't ask for things much.  She makes comments.  The comments are designed to sound informative but are actually a request in disguise.  She used the same tactic when we were kids.  Back then, she would say something like "Grandma, those oatmeal cookies are my favorite."  In Lyn speak, that was often how she would say "Grandma, may I please have an oatmeal cookie."  Yesterday, her comment was "I have never gone to McDonalds drive thru."  She has.  Mom doesn't bother to remind her.  Mom was kind enough to play along and take her to McDonalds.  Lyn was very confused as Mom pulled into the drive thru.  Mom ordered, pulled forward, paid and collected their food.  Lyn was genuinely astounded that you didn't have to go inside to handle the order.

I don't know how long it has been since Lyn actually did go through a drive thru.  I know she was with me in the spring when we swung by a Golden Pride to order 2 dozen tortillas for me to add to my suitcase for my husband before flying home.  (Yes, you can buy tortillas by the dozen at a fast food restaurant in New Mexico.  They're fresh and better than the ones in available in the grocery stores in VA.)  Anyway, my point is that her memories and cognitive abilities seem to be slipping quite a bit lately.  I don't know where she is in the rewind of her life's movie.  I do know that she looks visibly lost most days when I see her or see pictures of her.

On the positive side, Mom and I worked together and resolved her camera problem without the help of IT support (my husband) allowing us to see each other when we Skype.  We were both delighted.