Our road trip to see Mom and Dad took about 8 hours, and we usually made the trip over a weekend, between work weeks. Sometimes, we stayed longer…Christmas, for instance. A longer visit, we learned, can shed a harsh and truthful light, exposing hidden things.
We realized that Mom and Dad could pull it together, put on a good front, cover for one another, and make things seem fairly normal for a day or two. If the visit was any longer, it was too hard to keep up the charade, and things started unraveling around the edges. This was hard work, and they must have been worn to a frazzle by the time we left. We were for sure.
“Reality” was the unwanted gift that Christmas…I didn’t expect it, and I didn’t want it. I was boxing up decorations for storage, but Alzheimer’s is what I wanted to box up and put in a deep, dark corner of the attic. This was about 15 years ago, and it was just the beginning.
About Five Years Later
Just faint shadows of Christmases past remained, but I still looked for them. The hardest part of all was searching for Mom and Dad….Alzheimer’s had been steadily stealing them away from us. They too were only shadows of earlier, better times.
My eyes stung with tears as I packed Christmas away…kids’ stockings, the nativity set, homemade ornaments, crocheted snowflakes and twinkling lights. Christmas memories filled the boxes that would be stored in the attic for another year, waiting to be stirred again.
Simple & Ordinary
Eventually, we changed our expectations for the holidays…which took some pressure off and warded off disappointment. We learned to simplify everything…from food, which gradually became a simple “no frills” meal, to decorations, which were scaled back to just a centerpiece for the table, and the visit was kept short. The focus was on the visit, not on gifts, food and decorations. Mom and Dad were so much more at ease with simply a good, relaxed visit…familiar to them and nothing out of the ordinary.
Celebrating Christmas with the King
Mom and Dad aren’t here with us anymore. I do still miss them dearly, but I am so thankful Alzheimer’s is finally over for them. I love to picture them celebrating Christmas with the King Himself! This is what Christmas is all about…celebrating the birth of the Savior! And…celebrating in Heaven….can you imagine?
Thank you for spending time here…
This is a great article from the Alzheimer’s Association… https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays
Thanks for spending time here…
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.” Psalm 46:1-3
I wrote Dancing Around the Chaos for those who are on the ALZ journey with loved ones…struggling to figure it out and dreading what the next day will bring…but too exhausted and afraid to think beyond the present. It happens to also be a sweet and tender love story that really happened, whose characters are real people. Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2v2paXK
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