Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas 2014

This Christmas went about as well as expected. Mom had no idea what Christmas was; it is the first year that she has completely forgotten the holidays. That was a little tough...we kept trying to spark her memory with different Christmas decorations, traditions, etc. But it was to no avail. Mom lives in a small little world that revolves around medicine, eating and sleeping. She knows about little else.

My Aunt Claudia (mom's sister) planned a Christmas Eve party at her house. This used to be our family tradition-up until my grandparents died a few years back. Christmas Eve was always a lovely affair. Grandma spent days beforehand baking an array of Christmas goodies and prepared tins of treats for everyone. Dozens of presents were lined under the tree for all of the kids, grandkids and my grandparents. Nobody was forgotten. Aunt Claudia really wanted to recreate Christmas Eve and really wanted my mom to be there. We knew that mom wasn't going to understand the significance or meaning to our traditional gathering, but we really wanted to try to get her there anyway. It was nothing short of a Christmas miracle that dad was able to get mom into the car that Christmas Eve afternoon and across town to her sister's house.

When mom arrived at her sister's house, she walked through the house, searching for people and trying to make sense of who everyone was. Unfortunately, she never connected who her nieces and nephews were and it even took her awhile to figure out who my brother and his wife were (they had arrived at my Aunt's directly from Arizona). She paced the house for a good amount of time; it was hard to get her to settle down. She walked around, repeating,

"I miss my brother Jeff, I wish he was here I miss him."

We laughed a couple times when she wandered around searching for the grandkids - my sister's daughter, Raelynn, in particular. At one point, mom stuck her head outside the back door in an effort to locate Raelynn and as Raelynn responded to grandma's calls, my mom took Raelynn by the hand and brought her over to my sister, stating,

"Here you need to be with your mom, you should stay with your mom."

We were able to finally get her to settle down and sit with us; for a little while, anyway. When she was ready to go, she was ready to go! She charged out the door and plopped herself down inside dad's truck at one point. She eventually had to go potty and reluctantly came back inside the house. Before she could head back to the truck, we pulled her into a family picture and dad was able to settle her down once again (I think he bribed her by showing her her nightly medicines).

She didn't understand one bit of Christmas Eve, but we were able to get her there and spend some time together as a family. My Aunt did a beautiful job of recreating our Christmases of the past. I know that we will look back on this memory with fondness and I'm glad mom was able to be there in some small way.

Christmas Day didn't go as well as Christmas Eve. Of course mom is set in her own routine so it meant nothing to her when we all showed up Christmas morning for our traditional Christmas breakfast and gift exchange. We tried to get her to sit with us to open up some presents, but it was her time to sit on her bed and watch the clock for the next hour until it was time to potty. My sisters and I took in some presents for her to open in her bedroom. I was the smart one of the group (ha ha) and I put her presents in an open basket rather than in a gift bag, since I knew she wouldn't understand that concept. It's hard to Christmas shop for someone who just sits on her bed half the day, so we all opted out of sentimental gifts and bought her practical gifts that she would enjoy instead, which includes: make up, Ensure and Bath & Body Works. When I presented her her basket, she couldn't connect that it was a gift. She must have thought that I was showing her something that she already had. It wasn't until my sis-n-law stepped in and starting taking body lotions out of her gift bag that the light bulb suddenly went on.

"Oh, this is for me? You bought this for me too? Oh yeah, that's so good."

And with that, mom took her gifts and put them in her home.

Mom lost interest in viewing her other gifts after she put her lotions away, so when she came out of her room to take her empty "Slim Fast" cup to the kitchen sink, we redirected her to the couch in an effort to get her to open up the rest of her gifts. She didn't understand what we wanted her to do and she kept trying to get up to leave. My brother and I held her on the couch for a few minutes, with me draping my legs over her in an effort to get her to stay, he he. As we tried to explain to her that she had more gifts, mom complained about how she needed to go up to the store to get more make-up. My dad brought over his gift bag to her which contained more make-up than any one person needed. When mom inspected eyeliners (tearing it out of it's packages to make sure it was the right one) she wiggled her way out of our grasp and made a mad dash to her bathroom, where she put her gifts in their home.

All in all, I enjoyed the holiday season. I wasn't expecting much with mom so I wasn't let down as hard, if that makes sense. I still miss her all the time and it's so disheartening to watch her slip away and disengage with the family. I just can't imagine what next year will bring, although traveling anywhere (even across town) will be out of the question I'm sure.

You might also notice some other changes in mom. She has started using her blue eyeliner/eyeshadow for her eyebrows. The first time this happened (a few weeks ago) I thought it was a simple mistake. But she's been doing her make-up like this ever since. She also wears her shirts backwards most days. :(


  1. Wow! I am in so much awe by the extent, with which you press on and keep on, despite an ailment that can fray relationships and connections and really eat into tight knit families, if you allow it, but we shouldn't. The most fitting way around that is to simply show your love and care to your loved ones, who are afflicted by dementia, beyond what both our arms can do, but what a few more can bring them and carry them to. Thanks for sharing that, Cassandra! All the best to you!

    Michelle Simmons @ Fairfax 211 Comfort Keepers

  2. Crying as I read... My sweet little sister slipping away before our eyes..