My grandma B. is in a Memory Care section at a Care Center in the Twin Cities. Each time I see her, she seems less and less “like herself.” It is especially difficult for my dad and his brothers who look at her and see only remnants of the woman they know as “mom.” Gone are the days of grandma excitedly describing her latest trip to the casino or enjoying her long daily walks. Gone are the days of cousins, aunts and uncles playing a few rounds of cards with grandma while enjoying one of her delicious homemade pizzas. Her demeanor is different, quieter.
It has been, and continues to be a difficult transition both for grandma as well as for her family. My dad and his brothers have been struggling with “what to do” when they visit her as she absentmindedly wheels herself away from them. She is no longer able to hold much of a conversation. No repeating of funny stories, no more playful joking or play-by-play account of the latest Vikings game on TV. My dad recently remarked that “in a way, mom has become the child, and I the parent.” With that sad realization came a new way of understanding, though.
Dad had one of his best visits with grandma a couple weeks ago. He wheeled her around the center, stopping by a small table. He grabbed a book off the table and did something simple. Sweet. Something that she had done for him many years ago. He just sat beside her and read to her. In that moment, all that existed was the precious relationship between a boy and his mother, and a mother and her son.
My dad still cherishes his memories of “the mom he once knew.” He cherishes the moments he spends with her now, too. Although they are different than they used to be, these moments are no less precious, no less profound. To my dad she is still “mom” and always will be.
Grace and peace to all of you: Families that have loved ones in care centers. May treasured moments happen for you there, no matter where they are in their journey.