It's been six years now, since my Mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Within months Dad quickly became full-time caregiver, and I took on the role of relief caregiver, 3 days a week, allowing my Father a chance to go sailing on the bay, and much needed time away to clear his head and find peace in his heart.
Like having an elephant in the living room, I have not publicly shared this. I did try to write a new blog a couple years ago, about our experiences together, but somehow was never able to let it go public. So here it is:
My Mother has Dementia, and We Are All More or Less Thriving!
Over the last six years Mom and I have made many many art projects together, many which I hope to share with you here on my blog. Making art with Mom has been an incredible GIFT to both of us. A gift for me, as I learn who she is becoming, and a gift for her, as she has something productive to do. As the years progress the projects have become easier and more simple, but Moms enthusiasm and love still shines through. I now come twice a week, as her energy level has diminished tremendously, and her motivation has all but disappeared. My Father calls her 'Sleeping Beauty' now, as she sleeps 16 to 18 hours a day.
I won't lie, it has been very difficult to see my Mother slowly disappear. It's a bit like watching a beautiful flower slowly lose its colors. My Mother is still here, but she has become a different Mother. She can still sing and laugh and make jokes, but she cannot remember when I was last there, or what day it is. Her skills have diminished, but she's still willing to try.
Making art together has made the transition easier. It has given us something to share, and something to do together. Shortly after Moms diagnosis, Dad and I re-discovered a love of the I Ching, an ancient Chinese Oracle, which I will share in another post. This philosophy has helped us ACCEPT and THRIVE through these caregiving years.
Today I want to share with you one of my favorite projects that my Mother and I have done together. Dad actually came up with this idea! A memory quilt of the milestones in Moms life. It now proudly hangs in my parents living room. We started with a list of the high-lights of Moms life. From there we cut multi-colored squares of simple cotton. I drew an image or date on each square for Mom to embroider, and away she went! She was so excited about this project that she finished it in 3 weeks! She even pieced the squares and sewed the border!
If you look closely, you will see Mom has led a facinating life.