Prompted By Minnie Pearl

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day. Earlier today, during a conversation with my mother, she brought up the straw hat with a dangling price tag, wearing Minnie Pearl.  She tells me she could be the next Minnie Pearl.  I have heard this for years.  

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floralstrawhatHowwwwwwwwwdee!  So, my mom keeps telling me she could be Minnie Pearl.  We’ll be having a conversation in which she’ll say something funny that causes us to laugh. Then, Inevitably, she’ll comment, “I believe I could be…oh, what’s her name…she’s dead isn’t she”? I’ll say, “Minnie Pearl”? She’ll say “yeah, I could be her.”

 

She has actually told me this for years, well before the Alzheimer’s set in.  I find it comforting that of all the memories she is losing, she still retains the one about being Minnie Pearl.  That may not seem significant or even normal, but somehow for us, it is.

I wonder just what it is about Minnie Pearl that my mom identifies with.  Is it the clean humor? The infamous price tag? The clarion “Howdy”? The “I’m so Proud to be Here”? Is it an ideal? Does it remind her of a simpler time?  I think it is a combination of all these and I think it’s as much the person (interview at 2:45 on the video) behind the persona as it is the character.

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Minnie Pearl gave us permission to laugh at ourselves.  She gave us permission to embrace our imperfections.  She graced us with the hallmark of simple, everyday life that aspired to live above the muck. Minnie Pearl, simply put, made us okay with being us. I think we can all relate to the human foibles she kindly poked fun at, that propel us through life.

The clear take away for me is a reminder to be me and not to take me so seriously. Enjoy life and quit trying to attain a perfection that was never meant to be mine. I think that is a lesson that my mom has learned through life events. She has learned to let go of perfect; she has learned to laugh at herself.  She has embraced an ordinary, everyday life with grace,character, strength, strong moral values, compassion and humor.  She has laced life with the gift of laughter.

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Even now, with Alzheimer’s she knows the value of a good belly laugh and it’s power to heal.  She knows the value of not taking yourself too seriously. She knows the value of a well placed “Howwwwwwwdee, I’m so glad to be here.”

Leaving you with a grace-filled Howwwwwwdee,

Teresa

 

 

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