Tag Archives: Mothers Day

A Perfect Match

Standard
A Perfect Match

My Mother’s move from her Assisted Living apartment to a single room in the secured area of the retirement facility occurred abruptly. The move happened the day after she “took a walk” on a cold, February night.

Her furniture and household items were given away, but her personal belongings remained boxed up and packed away in my sister’s basement for the next 4 years.

It didn’t seem right to dispose of, donate, or distribute them while as Mom would say….she was still alive and kickin’.

Several months after she died, in an effort to clean out a storage room in my sister’s basement, we sorted through what was left of Mom’s things.

Her coats and special occasion outfits hanging neatly on a rack, looked like a museum exhibit: Grandma Loie’s Wedding Attire 2000-2014.

Two bins held the accessories that made her outfits complete.

It was a strange archeological dig.

The discovery lay in what was, and wasn’t there. 

One small box I took home held the contents of her kitchen “junk drawer.”

Everybody has one of those, right?

The contents of this treasure trove included things like  rubber bands (likely saved from the evening newspaper), a ball of cooking twine, household string, a partial roll of packing tape, Scotch™ tape, a handful of unidentified keys, and two matchboxes.

It all went straight into my junk drawer.  Eventually, I sort of forgot some of the stuff had come from my Mom.

Last week I opened that drawer to grab a Bic® candlestick lighter.  It was out of gas and therefore, useless.

I looked down, spotted the matchboxes and grabbed one. I realized it was from McCormick™ & Kuleto’s, and had been my Mom’s.

I smiled thinking of how Mom always grabbed a book of matches on her way out of a restaurant – especially when traveling.

With smoking bans and fewer people lighting up, matchbooks are no longer a staple at hostess stands. 

She brought this one home from a visit with my brother & sister-in-law in San Francisco. She enjoyed her visits to Southern California and our time together, but she loved her visits with Steve and Libby.

Thanks to Mom’s matches – the only ones in my house – I could light the candle.

I slid open the matchbox and began to laugh.

 

Because…..

 

 

No match here.

I laughed at this heaven-sent, practical joke.

I laughed remembering the handful of recent times I’d needed a safety pin, and couldn’t find one. How ironic.

As I held that beat-up matchbox, I had a tangible reminder of the absurdity of dementia.

During my Mom’s nearly 10-year journey with dementia, I quickly learned when a loved one has dementia, you are faced with two choices: Cry or laugh.

I chose laughter. Nearly every time. 

I never laughed at my Mom. I laughed at the absolutely ridiculous situations we were faced with, as her dementia progressed. Sometimes she laughed, too.

At some point, the monetary or sentimental value of things became meaningless to my Mom.

Dementia meant diamonds were disposable. Out went her first engagement ring, and her favorite necklace – a heart-shaped diamond pendant with a ruby in the center. There were other items missing, but those two pieces held the most sentimental value. 

Long before the Marie Kondo craze, my Mom was in everything-must-go mode.

Dementia compelled her to clear cut her surroundings.

She cut apart books, and cut holes around labels in her beautiful clothes because,  you know – irritating tags.

The clean sweep meant everything came off the walls. She tossed her wallet, eyeglasses, photos, countless mementos.

Oh, but not those few dozen safety pins. They were tucked away safely in that matchbox!

While those safety pins might come in handy, I don’t need those temporary fasteners to feel connected to my Mom.

She is firmly stitched into my entire being, and she is woven into the fabric of her entire family. 

Occasionally, I see her facial expressions and mannerisms. 

I hear family members quote her….both knowingly and unknowingly.

I regularly employ her solid and timeless wisdom.

The things she tossed out that had sentimental value were meaningful because of the memories attached to them.

I’ve learned you don’t need to have the thing — to have the memory.

This Mothers Day, I’m grateful for treasured memories.

And a large supply of safety pins.

I’m also grateful to have had Lois Anne as my Mother.

That was a perfect match.

💕

 

 

Momma Dogma

Standard

My Mother has always been funny, intuitive, insightful, and not just smart; but wise.

Dementia has changed some of this. She is still very funny, although now her sense of humor varies from childlike, to irreverent and sometimes, unfiltered and downright naughty.

It can be difficult to remember just how smart she was, but I know her wisdom is still in there somewhere; it just isn’t always accessible to her.

She is proud of her five children, and she is amazed that she raised them. She just doesn’t remember how she did it. In the moments when she is aware of her failing memory, it frustrates her.  I tell her that she is a great Mom, she did her job well, and now she has five children to help her remember the things she has forgotten.

“Well, I suppose so.” is her response.

As I remember it, she was never overbearing or terribly opinionated; quite the opposite.  She was pretty easy going and didn’t get too upset about much. She was firm, but she didn’t shout or yell often. Instead, she relied on nonverbal communication: “The Lois Face.”

The Lois Face is not a single expression. It is fluid. A series of quick facial movements: eyebrow raise, lip purse, lip biting, eye closing, lip smacking, eye opening.  Go ahead, try it.

The Lois Face was incredibly effective at instantly conveying complete disapproval. It resulted in that yucky  “uh-oh-I’m-in-trouble-feeling” in the pit of the stomach. She still uses it occasionally, especially if she is feeling bossed around and needs to reassert that she is, in her words, “still the mommie.”

Like all Mothers, there are certain philosophies, guidelines, responses and rules that she repeated through the years, with great conviction.  No one questioned them or disputed them. It is her Momma Dogma.

I’ve compiled a list of my Mother’s classics……before I forget them!

Some of these are quirky, some are completely accurate, and I admit, a few of them have caused me to roll my eyes, after hearing them repeatedly over the years!

Whether they are “right” or not, they still ring in my ears, and I admit….I pretty much live by these rules.

In honor of Mothers Day, I am sharing some of my Mother’s wisdom:

Homemaking

  • When house hunting, picture where the Christmas tree would go
  • When shopping for a new set of dinnerware, picture a fried egg on the plate
  • Don’t buy anything sold door-to-door:  If it was really great, they would sell it in stores
  • Use half the recommended amount of laundry detergent -your clothes will last longer.  They are in the business of selling soap.
  • Put your crystal stemware in the dishwasher: It will be safer than hand washing it and risking knocking it against the side of the sink
  • Get your hands wet, dry them on a rag. That is your dust cloth.
  • If you think it smells funny, just  throw it out. I don’t need to smell it. (I think someone had a weak stomach)

Fashion

  • If it isn’t lined, wear a slip: the skirt will hang better
  • You should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you
  • If you don’t feel good in it, get rid of it
  • Don’t buy it just because it is on sale
  • Never buy cheap bras
  • Nothing ruins a perfectly nice outfit faster than bad shoes
  • A white blouse makes you feel better
  • Never add lace to the bottom of a hem: It shouts “homemade!” (We used to sew.)
  • January is not a great shopping month – the stores are full of cruise wear

Health

  • Cut yourself? Put Bacitracin and a Band-aid on it.
  • Got a scab? Let it air out, don’t touch it. Just leave it alone!
  • Never pop a blood blister
  • If it hurts when you move it…don’t move it
  • Never eat fruit in the late evening; you’ll have gas during the night
  • Have a stomachache? Lie on your right side
  • Have a fever?  Stay quiet
  • If you are nauseous, drink Pepsi, not 7-up;  the cola will settle your stomach

House Rules

  • Boys are not allowed to sit on the furniture or at the table while shirtless
  • Have you no couth? Please have some decorum! (responses to inappropriate behavior)
  • No grape-flavored chewing gum allowed in the house (now I realize, it does stink)
  • You don’t need a Ken doll. Barbie can play with P.J.
  • Forbidden language (in addition to the big curse words):  stupid, shut-up, oh my god, god dang, butt, sucks, I hate you

Life Observations

  • Bad haircut? It will grow.
  • Why do people pass on a high-priced head of lettuce or cauliflower but will buy a bag of chips for the same price?
  • When men have a cold it is the worst EVER…the only ache or pain we women get to claim all to ourselves is our period.
  • You should never feel guilty. No good ever comes from it.
  • They should allow prayer in public schools. They took prayer out of schools and then what is the first thing they do with the kids after a tragedy…hold prayer circles and prayer vigils.
  • Mr. Business went to church, he never missed a Sunday. Mr. Business went to hell for what he did on Monday. (a reminder that it takes more than going to mass on Sunday.)

.

Now if only I could master “The Lois Face!”

.

Happy Mother’s Day!