Susan Berg, author of Adorable Photographs of Our Baby, Meaningful Mind Stimulating Activities and More for the Memory Challenged, Their Loved Ones and Involved Professionals, suggests that the Fall theme can be used to spark conversations which stimulate the minds of individuals with dementia.  One of her Fall themed items is to encourage your loved one to list all the types of apples they know.

This suggestion reminded me of one of the creative ways Mom tried to teach us something.  She used apples to illustrate a particular point in such a way that we got it even as little kids.  Here's what happened:

When I was about five years old, Mom took us to dinner at a local restaurant.  Sitting at another table was a family comprised of an African American man, a Caucasian woman and their two children.  I remember asking if the children were zebras since their dad was black and their mom was white.  Mom shushed me and said we'd discuss it later.

That weekend we went to our grandparents' house where they had several apple trees.  This event had to have happened around this time of year because there were apples for the picking.  Mom picked a couple and sat us around the dinner table.  We talked about the apples.  We compared their sizes, their shapes and their colors.

Mom told us to stay at the table while she went into the kitchen with the apples.  A few minutes later, she came back and gave us apple slices to snack on.  She asked us if we knew which slices came from the green apple or the red.  She asked if we could identify the tall apple or the short.  We couldn't.

Mom then explained that people, like the couple in the restaurant, are like the apples.  We may all look a bit different, but we're really the same inside.

This stuck.  This discussion came up repeatedly when we were growing up.  It was a concept that Lyn really understood too.  Not only could we look different; we could think different.  She could be the athlete and I could be the academic.  The apples helped her understand that differences are normal and to enjoyed.


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