Prompted by Laughter

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I will choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day. One of the facts of life these days, is that my Mother has Alzheimer’s and much of life is focused around her, which means she could very well be the source of many of my writing prompts.  My goal when sharing stories about my mother is to give her identity, dignity and personality, all things that the Alzheimer’s is only too ready to steal from her.  My hope is that in sharing some of her story those who know her will be comforted and those who may be going through a similar battle will be encouraged.  Because, in spite of it all, there are good days.  And, there is grace.  Always, God’s grace.    

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Today she made me laugh.

Some days my mom makes me laugh.  Other days she makes me cry.  Oh, she doesn’t mean to make me cry, but the Alzheimer’s sometimes wreaks havoc. So, when there is a day we can laugh I count that a good day.

The whole process of how Alzheimer’s  plays with the mind is fascinating.  You watch the memories fade from color to black and white and eventually dissipate and crumble like old photos left too long in the light.  You deal with the confusion and forgetfulness. And, sometimes the anger.  You read the books that tell you what to expect, even though the same books also tell you that no two cases are alike. Basically, you can’t expect.

Every day I see more of her memories get lost in the shuffle.  I watch her steps slow, keeping time to a different beat.  I see her look at me thinking I’m her sister and not her daughter.  I listen to her questions about “where are the boy’s” (my dad and my husband).  I try to explain who people are when they are brought up in conversation. Sometimes there is a spark of recognition, but more often than not, she can’t readily place them.

Still, in all of this, her essence is intact.  She is she and we are graced with petals of her personality strewn about.  On a really good day it is like having a complete flower from the bouquet.  Those are the days we laugh the most. Because they are a gift and we don’t want to squander them.  She loves to laugh and make you laugh.  She is witty and when you least expect it she will pull off a one-liner that makes a spot on point. In those moments she is sharp as a tack. In those moments you can shut out the inescapable journey.

This evening at dinner (sometimes, when I actually cook, she and my father come over and eat with us) we were waiting on the rolls to finish and I was lamenting the fact that my house was once again upside down (lack of space, too much stuff) because all the laundry room storage was strewn around my kitchen in hopes that the furnace guy soon would be here (delayed until next Tuesday).  I said something to the effect that I was so tired of everything being in my way.

In the midst of the conversation Mom piped up and said “You are the only person I ever knew who can see everything in her house at one time.”  And we laughed. Because it is true, lack of storage and space pretty much means everything is on display. It was funny in the context of what was going on in my life and in the tone of voice which she used. It was funny because it was a spot on connection that she was making.

It was, for a brief moment, like having all of her with us and not just the petals. So, I laughed at the comment, but I also laughed with joy, because I knew her.

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Laughing in Grace,

Teresa

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30 thoughts on “Prompted by Laughter

  1. Caregiving is never easy–laughter makes it bearable. I’m glad you can laugh. May God continue to be with you as you travel this season of your life. Thank you for linking up at Inspire Me Mondays and I hope to see you back next week.

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  2. I loved it! My parents just moved her from Arkansas to a independent care facility, so I am feeling the responsibility to care for them. I know this will be a journey of laughter and tears. Thanks for sharing your mother’s wit.

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    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for reading. It is a journey with both laughter and tears – when I finally embraced it willingly I could also start seeing the lessons God was going to teach me on the journey. I wish you the best with your parents – I’ll tell you what so many people tell me – store up as many memories to treasure as you can.

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  3. Such beautiful writing, the words touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I remember your mom from church at Liberty Grove. Didn’t know the illness (so sorry).

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    1. Thanks, June! Those days at Liberty Grove were some of the best of our life. Mom has been battling this for about 4 years now. We rely on God’s grace a lot.

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  4. Wow, Teresa… This is beautiful! My grandfather also struggled with alzheimer’s, so I totally get the “petals of personality.” What a blessing it must be to write these memories down.

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    1. Thanks, Carla – it is a blessing – I have lots of thoughts to write down and eventually will get them all gathered. It’s just hard sometimes to release them, but I’m finding that sharing her story in bits and pieces is good therapy for me. At first I was looking at it from the Alzheimer’s perspective and I didn’t want to write about that, but the two posts I’ve done recently are helping me see that I am writing about her journey – seeing her and how that blesses and teaches me and possibly how it might encourage others on the same journey. It somehow makes it easier to accept that this is our portion.

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  5. Teresa, thank you so much for sharing your journey, and for allowing others to follow along with you. I still have tears in my eyes after reading your post!! I am also blogging on this subject, although my husband doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, he does have Vascular dementia caused from small strokes that have affected his memory. But there are also other issues – and that is what I am using for my blog – Dementia’s Demands. Your page is beautiful and welcoming! And your words and writing are so heart-warming and beautiful. I KNOW your mom would approve and smile or laugh at what you are sharing!!! I don’t propose to be an expert about this subject, or an English major to “write correctly”; I write from my heart and my experiences as I see that you do. Thanks again for sharing – and sorry for a long comment!!!!!

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    1. You’re welcome, Donna. I’m so glad yo stopped by. I wrote another post about her last week called Love Bears All. It was about having to help her bathe, which is yet another thing that this disease takes away – their independence. I know how hard this journey is, I will keep you in my prayers.

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  6. Beautifully written, Teresa. These stories of her will be precious jewels for you to recall, one day. And I love the image of her essence as a rose with the petals strewn about. It is comforting to think that her personality is still there, just a bit askew. Your story reminds me of the time I got a marriage proposal from my dad. He was in the thick of his dementia and mistaking me for mom, of course. As sad as it was, I felt like it was a gift. The curtain of time was pulled back, and I had a chance to see him as never before – – an ardent young man in love.

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    1. Thanks, Shawna. I like the analogy of “the curtain of time was pulled back”! Many times it does seem that I’m seeing my mom as she was when she was younger.

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  7. I called tonight. We had several cohesive strands to our conversation and I was uplifted. She shared several of her trademark witticisms with me tonight, and we laughed. It felt good. I told her I heard joy in her voice, and we were both glad. I love Mom, and I love you for your true words about her essence.

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