Editor: This is the fourth part of a book written by my close friend about her mother’s journey with old age and dementia. To read all of it, click here. In the previous chapter, we saw two sides of Barbara. One, where she was animated, happy, bright eyed and fun loving, and the second, where she was in her own world, vacant eyes, almost lifeless. Today, the author takes us back 15 years when it all began.
This is near the beginning of our Mommy’s journey, approximately fifteen years ago. Her ever so gradual decline into a new phase that eases her towards dementia. This is how she managed her journey. She is the narrator at first.
My inner clock gets me up at six in the morning each and every day, just like clock work, as I live and breathe.
I begin my day with a whole lemon, freshly squeezed in a half a cup of chilled water. The colder the better for me. That is what I drink every morning since I can remember. It’s so good for you. I absolutely swear by it. The healthiest way to start my day. My Mother, Flora, taught me that, although she did not follow it for herself, yet I was forced to when I was young. Although I came to the conclusion many years later that it always made me feel like it was doing some good. I’m still here aren’t I….
When my children were not feeling well, out came a hot lemon for their colds, cool lemon for a fever and for a good cleaning out. I never forced them, so sometimes they drank it and sometimes they didn’t.
I begin my breakfast with whole grain cereal and milk. Sometimes with some fruit on top. I have to have my piece of whole grain toast with real butter and apricot jam, sometimes marmalade. And lots of it so that it’s thick, juicy, appears to be melting. Mmmmm! Of course I top it all off with a cup of coffee along with my thyroid pill. I simply can’t be without my coffee!
I wash all my dishes and tidy up my kitchen. I take pride in everything being neat and clean and put away. I don’t like clutter. I think that way, possibly because my Mother was the opposite.
When I was a kid she left everything out and I was told to clean up and put it all away. Her kitchen looked like a bomb hit it, she’d make such a mess during her baking days, which was often. One of her favourite things to do, bake, bake, bake. Oh boy, was she good at it. She always had a generous amount of baking done before her grandchildren arrived. It made her day to see them devour some of it down.
I like everything in it’s place. I do a quick dusting and puffing of my pillows. Straighten the curtains, glancing around to be sure all is where I want it to be.
Continuing with my day, I either have a bath in the tub or just a sponge bath, depending on if I have to be somewhere soon or not. Or if I am expecting someone to visit. I like to be clean and having a lovely scent of freshness on my being. I take pride in myself.
I pick out my favourite colour, a matching sweater set in yellow. My beige pants and my favourite comfy flat shoes. I brush my teeth well, always floss. I want to keep all my teeth as long as possible just like my Dad did. I spray on my favourite perfume behind my ears and on my wrists. As they say, “a little dab will do ya.”
I am not vain although wearing lipstick and running a brush through my hair makes me feel grooming myself is proper. Rub a tiny bit of rouge on my cheeks, makes my eyes sparkle. Okay, so I’m a little bit vane, but who isn’t. No matter what anyone tells you, first impressions do count. Don’t kid yourself. Who knows who will drop in on me. I want to look my best. Once a month I go get my hair done at a salon. Feels good to be pampered sometimes. The rest of the time I simply do it myself.
I hang up my pyjamas, fold up my cosy night time blanket and tiny pillow and tuck them away in my closet. I straighten up the couch, leaving a fresh tea towel on one arm of the couch.
Then I wait by watching sports, either Curling, Golf or Tennis on T.V. Sometimes I read another chapter from the novel I’m enjoying. Although lately I have to re-read the previous chapter to get caught up on what I’ve forgotten. If that is too tedious I flip through a travel magazine. I am a creature of habit in the morning and at night time.
I get antsy waiting, checking the time over and over again. So I water my bedding plants that are in pots on my patio. My daughter, Chelsea my fourth born, who reminds me of how my Mother looked when my Mother was a child, not my Mother’s personality, certainly not. Chelsea is outgoing, a go-getter, full of boundless energy and physically fit and athletic. She laughs so easily with a wonderful sense of humour, open and honest as the day is long and so very loyal. Her eyes big and expressive. She’s generously full of love and compassion, so very helpful and very smart. She created some lovely pansies with other spring bulbs underneath. It will be a nice surprise what comes up. I enjoy the anticipation.
I’m actually getting a bit tired so I pour myself a second cup of coffee and sit in the sunshine listening to the birds chirping. I love hearing the flap of their wings as they fly around. If I stay perfectly still, sometimes a sparrow will land nervously yet gracefully on the railing, darting glances all around ready to take flight at a moments notice. God’s gracious creatures. Imagine being able to fly.
The occasional pure white butterfly will glide in flirty circles teasing me by not quite landing. Behind my head is the delicate buzz of a honey bee coming in for a landing on my flowers. I feel humbled and awed by nature. One of God’s greatest gifts.
Cats, I’ve come to love them and their cute ways. I take great pleasure seeing the neighbourhood cats prowling around the grounds below and chasing the tiny squirrels up a tree. I miss having a cat. Can’t have cats in this Condo anyway.
Although we did have a darling orange kitty for many, many years when we lived in our home. We named her Deja Vu because she was the same colour as our previous cat. She gave birth to five kittens that we kept in a box in the living room. Unfortunately the kittens were all born blind but were very energetic and lively. Being blind did not stop them from enjoying their kittenhood. “I believe the kittens don’t know any different,” I used to tell the children. Regardless, the kittens brought us much joy and our darling Deja Vu was a wonderful Mama. We discovered the father of our kittens was blind. He used to sleep on our porch at night. During the day he’d hide somewhere. Each one of our children got to pick out their favourite kitten, even though they were well prepared that we would not keep any but give them away to whomever wanted one when the time came. Such lovely memories.
When I was a child we had a few dogs, one after the other. The first one used to protect me so I would not leave the yard. A brilliant and loving dog. The second dog was tinier and went to many places with us. I love dogs too.
Nature in all it’s glory thrills me. Although nature does not take the place of my children. Nothing compares to them. In my heart of hearts they are my sustenance. I am a lucky lady when I look back knowing my dreams did come true. I know this is what I have come here to do. My happiness. I fell in love and married the man of my dreams. Being as I was a only child, I wanted to have lots of children and I did. We raised them to the best of our abilities. Those years were the best times of my life. I have no regrets. I have only good thoughts and choose to remember only the good in each of my precious children.