One week ago I went to my parent’s home in attempt to sort out my mom’s clothes to make it easier for her to get dressed. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and making decisions is just plain hard for her these days. While working in her closet I came across this big, metallic gold bag. Instantly memories of mom coming to visit us when we lived in Waverly came to mind. She would walk in grinning as she hugged the kids and they would giggle and grin back. Soon after arrival (or sometimes after we left if they were babysitting) she would pull out the bag with “surprises” in it for the kids. These “surprises” were simple things, a color book, a puzzle book, cookies or maybe some Avon roll-on colored soap for bath time. She loved spending time with her grandkids, all 4 of them. In fact, I learned alot about my parents by watching them with the kids. I don’t remember them being so animated and willing to play games when I was a kid. I’m told grandkids do that to a person.
Today I leave to go their house for the last time with Mom living there. We are going to move her to a local nursing home with a “memory unit”. Then we are going to take Dad back home to begin a season of living alone. To my knowledge Dad has never lived alone. Oldest of 5 kids, he lived on the farm until he went to the Korean war, then back to the farm with parents until he married my Mom. Life changes.
As I looked at the gold bag last week the memories of faces and laughter instantly came to mind. It struck me that it’s those kinds of memories that are important. While I’ve loved having my parents be around for the kid’s “big events” like school plays, graduation, and weddings it’s more important to me that we all have memories of every day things. The kids played with frogs and kittens on the farm. Grandma let them get good and dirty. Grandma let them help make cookies and crafts for holidays. They came for Grandparent’s day at school even though it was 4 hours away! 🙂
My memories of Mom are of things like her many faithful customers that came to her beauty shop on the farm every week at the same time. She cared about them all and prayed for them. I remember her fixing not only my hair but my friend’s hair for our junior prom. I remember going to a local nursing home to decorate a big bulletin board every month. She loved to read and shared that love with me. I can’t remember a time when there were not books in our house. She loved to learn and be creative which I think came out more the older she got. She retired from doing hair to learn to arrange flowers and then opened her own shop to do that. Amber learned to run a cash register and count change there. She even took painting lessons in the last 20 years!
These memories challenge me to ask what I am doing to personally touch the lives of those I love. I don’t think it has to be “big,” “flashy” or cost lots of money. I believe the meaningful times come when you “do life” with those you love, taking the time to share yourself. Think about it. What first comes to mind when you think of your parents, grandparents, or other important people in your life?