Whimsy: – playfully quaint; fanciful behavior or humor.      






Dear Mom,

George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family…in another city.” If he’d said “in another state,” it would have described us.

Each month when I come to see you, we do at least one special thing. This month, I planned a day of whimsy. From food to fingernail polish to field trip, we would be playful and fanciful.

The fingernails were fun, weren’t they? Your great-grand-daughter Grace sent her favorite colors of nail polish, and soon your fingernails were bright with lime green and orange. In solids, stripes and dots that made you wiggle your fingers and smile. Later we had a special snack: gourmet cupcakes! One was Coconut-Confetti (which we shared in memory of Dad, who loved anything coconut). To remind us of the upcoming election, the other cupcake was called “Bi-Partisan Red and Blue”—with bright-swirled icing, half blueberry and half cherry. We served them on the placemats your granddaughter Molly had a vendor make for you at Territory Days more than twenty years ago. Yours was a “ mock announcement” of winning the Pulitzer, and Dad’s was an award for being the Best Grandfather.

Then came our field trip. We used Dad’s old wheelchair because we were taking a long walk outside, around the facility to the pond where ducks paddled over to meet us, and to enjoy the bright mums and last roses growing along the borders. You hummed melodies, and I sang along with the ones I recognized. David stopped by to bring toilet paper because we were out and I couldn’t leave you alone to go to the store. You thought it was a special gift your son had brought for you. After he left, you smiled and said that was your brother Sam and he always brought funny gifts, which was a perfect finish to our day of whimsy.

That night, when it was time to get ready for bed, I laid out your fleecy robe and a nightgown with pink butterflies. You refused, pushing them away. When I asked if you wanted to wear something else, you shook your head solemnly. “Mother and Daddy are coming for me tonight,” you said, “and I have to be ready to go.”

You might not remember, Mom, but nearly four decades ago, a week after visiting your mother in Missouri, you sensed it was time to be with her again. That day. Right away. Even though you called Granddad and he said she was fine, you still packed a bag and started driving. You arrived as Granddad was fixing her some soup. You sat with Grandma, singing with her and talking, holding her hand as Grandma closed her eyes and took her last breath.

So this week, on the evening after our day of whimsy, when you said they were coming for you and you needed to be ready to go, I listened. You wanted the blinds open in your bedroom and the window opened slightly, so you could hear the rain and feel the fresh night air. I sat on the floor next to your bed and leaned against the wall, close enough to reach out and pat your hand.

The next morning you were hungry. I fixed you biscuits with sausage gravy, which you gobbled down. Your daughter-in-law Sharon dropped by with cookies from a local shop, and after your breakfast you ate part of one and then I took you downstairs to get your hair done. It was a new day, with neither whimsy nor foreshadow, and as I guided you down the hall toward the beauty shop, you looked at your orange and green fingernails, wiggled your fingers and smiled.

Leo Tolstoy said, “If you want to be happy, be.”



Filed under art, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren

36 responses to “A TIME FOR WHIMSY

  1. I love your conversations always!

  2. ryoko861Irene

    This was very touching!

  3. Hi Marylin,
    Thank you for sharing your day of whimsy about your mom. She looks happy and cozy wrapped in her purple blanket. (My favorite color).
    I loved the cupcakes and figurines, and the wacky nail polish. 🙂

  4. Alice

    I bet you had fun planning too. What lovely ideas. Precious times with your mom.

    • It always includes unpredictable things for Mom when her great-grand-daughter contributes, like with the green and orange nail polish, and that keeps things interesting for us all!

  5. A lovely read… tender and sweet.

  6. I love the finger nails. PERFECT!

  7. So poignant, Marylin. And you are so wise to have a “theme” for your visits. Makes them more memorable for BOTH of you!

  8. Thank you for sharing all the detail and photos! I admire your creativity in devising all this.

  9. dianabletter

    Your sensitivity and caring shine through. The photo of the hands together is so moving. Thank you for your inspirational spirit and love between the generations!

    • Thanks, Diana. You write in your blog about making a commitment with a friend, an agreement to accomplish a goal, etc. This is my “buddy system” agreement with/for my mother. Each month I drive from Colorado to Kansas, and we do something that, hopefully, will mean something to her, even if it’s just in that moment. Some visits are more successful than others, but we do the best we can.

      • dianabletter

        That is fabulous that you and your mother do the buddy system arrangement. Do you do that with other people as well?

      • I have a very dear friend who is both my writing buddy and my prayer buddy. When one of us is facing writing deadlines or needing a challenge to try a new writing contest or publication, the writing buddy steps in, setting deadlines and checking in at agreed upon times for “progress reports.” As prayer buddies, we share concerns or worries with each other, knowing another set of folded hands and focused prayers will be there. We both have daughters, and knowing another mother is praying for your daughter’s health or job or children is a true gift for the heart. This has gone on for decades and is a treasured part of our lives.

      • dianabletter

        That is beautiful! Praying for another mother’s child is powerful. Lucky for you and your prayer buddy! I first learned of this when I was talking about a woman who was giving me trouble at work and my friend Kate said, “Pray for her!” At the time, I thought Kate was nuts but it worked. My prayers opened my heart. And slowly I was able to see this woman in a new light!

      • The power of prayer, especially when we pray for one another!

  10. Lovely post! And the fingernails are a hoot!

  11. Your stories about your mother and family are very touching. Just beautiful.

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