An unremarkable day, busy like each day. I prepared dinner mid afternoon, knowing full well I had practice pick ups and drop offs that would last until 7pm. When I jumped in the car, the twice baked potatoes ramekins were in a tray on the counter. Next to them, a full pan of chicken that needed to finish warming. Granny was sitting at the counter with a cup of tea, a snack and watching HGTV. Our golden retriever was laying at her feet.
When I came rushing through the garage door 40 minutes later, the trays were no longer on the counter. I turned the lower oven on and went about setting the table. Dinner was ready, almost everyone gathered at the table. Granny, as usual was not yet to the table. One of the boys was almost finished eating, I went to find Granny. She followed me to the table. Talking like no other conversation was going on (not unusual). We settled down to the table to say Grace. We are years past waiting to eat until after prayers. Granny is notoriously late. This was my solution for everyone to enjoy a warm meal and still saying Grace as a family.
On this night, Granny leaned over to Jake and said something that sounded snarky. No one else seemed to notice. My gut made me ask, “Mom, what is the matter?”. She looked up with complete disgust and said “Why do I have to eat the food the dog ate? Am I the only one!” “Mom, what are you talking about?” She proceeded to announce that the dog had gotten on the counter and had started eating the potatoes. She insisted she told me that already. I ASSURE you she did not. I was already out of my chair and bringing her on a separate plate another twice baked potato. I couldn’t eat another bite. I was devastated. She continued to rage about being served food for a dog.
No one else stopped eating. My mom had zero clue that I was mortified… and had stopped eating. At this time all I could think of was, how mortified my mom would be if she could see herself right now. This was far from the woman that had raised me. I was sad.
Blessed that I have my mom. Blessed that she is living and with me. Blessed that she is not “this person” everyday.
The first filter that Alzheimer’s claimed was Personal Space. An example of what I mean by that – when you approach your daughter and son in law’s closed bedroom door, you should knock. Nope. She has a tendency to walk right in. Un-phased that the lights are off. Or…as we pass an occupied table while walking out of a restaurant, and something catches her eye, she will interrupt their conversation/meal and interject herself. All of this is usually done with her big heart and wants to share some tidbit to make someone smile. Her personal mission. I have noticed that she has more of these “filter-less” moments, since COVID. No, I have not had her out in public willy nilly during the pandemic!
The filter she is losing right now is one I call Personal Information. It reminds me of having a toddler that asks the obvious question when they see something they haven’t encountered before – like a person in a wheelchair or a person with blue hair. Before you can distract her, “Hey why are you in a wheelchair?” “Hey did you mean to color your hair blue?” is already out of her mouth and she is no longer at my side.
All of these encounters take my breath away. I tense and brace for the people to react and respond. I can see initial confusion as they process the person in front of them, Granny. I think most people figure out that she is harmless and there is no ill will intended. A friend told me just this week that she also had these moments with my mom. Her take, “Do not worry about it. You’re mom is smiling and being so happy with these strangers. Most people will not be offended. They can see her goal is to make them smile.”
All of this being said, the next time you encounter someone who wants to say “hi” or tell you, “you look good in that outfit” – Smile at them and say thank you. You have no idea what it is to live in their shoes!
Maybe go as far as to say “hi” or complement a stranger yourself!
Thank you for reading today!
“Don’t treat people as bad as they are,
Treat them as good as you are.”Mother Teresa