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Posted: December 20, 2004

Practical Caregiving

A Special Holiday Caregiving Memory Shared

I was so frustrated. Mom and Dad needed someone to make sure they were taken care of 24 hours a day, and I was that someone. How was I going to have a happy holiday season? More importantly, how were they going to have a happy holiday season?

That year was the first time since they retired that they were home for Christmas and New Year?s. Mom had Alzheimer?s disease and Dad had strokes. They enjoyed doing things with their friends, but the holidays were family time and their friends at home were going to be with their families. My sisters and my children came over, but they had their own families to spend the holidays with. That left the three of us to spend the holiday season together.

I decided we needed a Christmas tree. I wanted to make Mom and Dad happy and I thought a tree that looked like the ones when I was a little girl would make them happy. They must have liked that look. I bought the large lights, balls and bubble lights Mom always thought were special. I bought an angel for the top of the tree. Dad spent a lot of time looking at the tree and Mom?s eyes lit up every time I turned the lights on. It did turn out sparkling.

I asked Mom and Dad what they wanted to do for the holidays. As we tried to think of something, we started to remember the holidays from years past.

Mom remembered the time the local doctor asked her mother to help deliver a baby. Times were so different when she was a child. They lived on a farm in southern Iowa, and doctor?s usually made house calls in their horse and buggy. Grandpa sewed a seam in the dress of her doll that needed mending and he played with Mom and her sister. Mom loved her parents so much.

As I cared for my parents, I would remember the holidays when I was a child. I remembered a special yellow truck, a large doll with a blue dress to sit on my bed, the Christmas I found out that there really wasn?t a Santa (Bah-Humbug!). One time I was so in love with a certain dress that I wouldn?t tell Mom and Dad anything else I wanted. I was so thrilled when I unwrapped that dress. I remembered how much I loved Mom and Dad at that time. Then there was the time we went to visit my aunt and uncle in Philadelphia. While we were there I was on American Bandstand, then we went to Washington, D.C. I have a wonderful picture of Mom, Dad and me in front of the White House.

Dad recalled one time he was supposed to bring in the cows. He was around eight years old. He walked out to the cows, then raised his coat above his head and yelled as loud as he could. He was just playing but the cows got scared and ran the other way. Dad?s face became red and he laughed as he said he never admitted to his father what really happened. Mom and I laughed ever time Dad told the story.

We watched the holiday shows on television. Some were for children and some for adults. Mom?s mind had regressed to that of a child, and Dad was recovering from a stroke. Then, of course, we always watched Lawrence Welk. All three of us sat there very relaxed. Mom would direct the music and try to tell the kids what to do. She had been a kindergarten teacher. Dad enjoyed the shows, but also enjoyed watching Mom. He did love her so much. Down deep she loved him even though she didn?t realize he was her husband any longer.

One time she looked at him and said, ?I don?t know who that man is, but I have always liked him.? They had been married over 65 years at that point. I enjoyed watching them both, but more than that, I was actually enjoying spending the holidays with them.

For Christmas and New Year?s I would make a special meal for them. We celebrated the holidays, but more than that we celebrated our love for each other. That year ? while slipping deeper into the past -- the holiday season turned into one of the most special times in my life. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy a special holiday season and can celebrate your love for each other.

© 2004 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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