Tag Archives: Ray Shepherd Motors

TAKING MEASURE

Dear Mom,

How do you measure the success of a Thanksgiving dinner?  Is it a perfect turkey with gourmet side dishes, Martha Stewart-type table linens and accessories?  Or can it be a day-after-Thanksgiving picnic on the floor of your apartment at Presbyterian Village?

This year we had a nontraditional celebration.  Jim and I came from Colorado; Molly and Trevor came with the kids from central Kansas, and David and Sharon came from their house nearby.  While others shopped for Black Friday bargains, the ten of us shared a special picnic on the living room floor of your apartment.  You napped off and on in your recliner, waking to take bites of carrot cake with thick icing, then licking your lips, smiling, and going back to sleep.

After Grace and Gannon sang the dinner prayer, food was served from every counter space and side table around the room, and our dog Maggie sniffed around, hopeful for crumbs and spills.  Everyone talked at once, laughed together, sampled food off each other’s plates, and stepped over out-stretched legs to go back for seconds.

In the midst of the happy chaos, you were surrounded by your daughter and son and their spouses, your granddaughter and her husband, and your two great-grandchildren.  All of us merrily crowded together, and none of us would have been there if it hadn’t been for you and Dad.  Your legacy surrounded you, Mom.

Each year Grace and Gannon begin decorating the Christmas tree as soon as the Thanksgiving dinner ends.  We can measure their ages in the pictures by how high up the ornaments and tinsel hang on the tree branches.  Their creativity is measured by their reach.

All around your apartment are framed pictures of family, from the time David and I were babies, then toddlers, then throughout the years as we grew up.  During the early years, when you and Dad were working hard to build the family business, two measures of your resourcefulness are the outfits you made for us and the way you cut our hair.  Money was tight but you were creative, and the pictures measured your efforts.

On this year’s day-after-Thanksgiving celebration, as I sat on the living room floor and watched my brother munch cookies, I had to smile at one picture in particular on the bookshelf above him.  David is maybe five in the picture and his hair is curly and trimmed neatly.  I’m three and sitting next to him.  We wear little matching jackets you made, and my hair, straight and fine, is cut in what you called the “Dutch-boy” style, as if you put a bowl on my head and trimmed around the edges.

What is the measure of a great Thanksgiving dinner, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, a successful life…or a good mother?

It doesn’t matter how “experts” measure dinners, trees or anything else, Mom.  Your life speaks for itself, and all of us sitting cross-legged on the floor around you have experienced first hand the wonderful mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother you are.

We’re thankful for you, Mom, and we all love you.

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for grandchildren

Best Friends

Dear Mom,

I can always tell when one of the young nursing students has taken a shift as your caregiver.  The tell-tale sign is the glittery polish on your fingernails.  When I take off your shoes and socks to get you ready for bed, your toe-nails are painted, too.

If I say how pretty your hands and feet look, usually you squint and seem confused.  You give a little smile and shrug, unsure.  Other times you wiggle your fingers and laugh.  “My friend did it,” you say, and then you add, “She’s my best friend…I think.”

I don’t ask you who “she” is.  I’ve learned that statements give you assurance, while questions are confusing.  I hold your hand, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the shiny polish.  Then I say you must have a very nice friend who chooses such a pretty color, and you suddenly are a school girl, wowed by your fancy fingers.  Proud to have such a friend, whoever she is.

Oh, Mom, you have had many friends.  Dad always said that you never met a stranger, and your mother, my grandmother, told me that even as a child you had the kindest heart and sweetest smile.

I remember the many women–and sometimes even my girlfriends–who trusted you with their secrets and sorrows, and how you embraced them in warm hugs and assured them you’d be praying for them.  You were a peacemaker, Mom, a gentle advisor, and a friend to so many.

For your ninety-third birthday, your granddaughter Molly brought your great-grandchildren Grace and Gannon for a celebration.  It was a long drive for them, so they bought the decorations and the ice cream cake when they arrived.  You fell asleep while eating the cake.  Six-year-old Gannon watched you sleep.  He gave you a sweet kiss and whispered to Molly, “Oh, Mom, she’s so cute.”  On their way home, they stopped by the cemetery.  Seven-year-old Grace read the details on Dad’s side of the headstone.  Your name in on the other side, and beneath your names is engraved the truth of your long marriage to Dad:  “Best Friends Forever.”

Grace put her hands on her hips and turned to her mother.  “I thought they were married,” she said.  You and Dad would have laughed at that; you would have hugged your great-grandchildren and told them stories about two Missouri teens who met and fell in love, and truly were each other’s best friends…even though they were married.  You wowed Dad with your faith, Mom, your patience and kindness and strength.  Fingernail polish had nothing to do with it.

You’re a great role model for your daughter, your granddaughter, and your great granddaughter.  Your great-grandson, too.  He thinks you’re very cute, and he gave you a kiss.

I love you, Mom.   Marylin

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, Marriage