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The 2 most amazing things my 82-yr old Mum said, despite her dementia

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

I recently heard this analogy about memory: imagine your brain is a bookcase, filled with books of wisdom and learning from the lowest shelves upwards… but as you age- or get dementia- the topmost books fall off, one by one, or sometimes two by two, until the shelves slowly empty down to the ground…

Yet Mum still said great things during our three weeks together, and I’m grateful I wrote them down; there will be more to come.

Scenario 1: We’re in her living room, surrounded by plump bookcases- she used to be the Head Librarian of our town. Suddenly she picks up a hardcover book, opens it to a few pages from the front and reads aloud this Rumi quote:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered one of my recent posts- “Nostalgia looks like a hedge, sounds like a seagull, & tastes like crumpets” -about the release of painful memories actually being a blessing for us both. She’s onto it hey?

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

Scenario 2: I was in the kitchen, being bossy on the phone trying to sort out a plumber to fix her bad drains, and she was shadowing me as I paced around her small flat, gesticulating and emphasising the urgency. Suddenly she said:

“It’s so wonderful to see your little girl grown up into all sorts of magical things you’d never have thought of.”

I love you Mum, and am so grateful for the challenges but gifts this trip to the UK brought me; I’m typing this from my first night back in Australia, and oh boy it’s good to have returned!

In plain gratitude for Home, love G xO

52 Comments

  1. This is so touching. Thank you for the inspiration. A friend who had cared for her husband through Alzheimers gets very upset when people speak of dementia as the worst possible end. She saw the sweetness and the essential person to the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Rachel. And your friend sounds amazing- I think any end has its horrors and beauty surely, just like Life itself? But one’s attitude and awareness of either definitely makes a big difference

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Being willing to see what is still there, often shining more clearly in addition to acknowledging the loss seems to be a brilliant approach. Welcome back to Australia,G, it sounds as though it was a rich and very meaningful visit with your Mum!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Steph- it’s good to be home- now I need to kick this awful jetlag, and integrate everything that happened over there: the good, the bad, and the almost-ugly (not to mention the Prime Minister dramas/bullshit as well) :/

      Like

  3. What a beautiful post. I love the Rumi quote. Was it apropos of nothing? (i.e., did she just suddenly feel the need to find that quote and read it aloud to you?) I have great admiration for what you’ve been doing for your mum, and for the positive attitude you’ve shown throughout. Like you, I had a difficult relationship with my mother when I was growing up; I confess I’m very grateful that at 86 she’s still managing on her own.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Marian; yes, she just suddenly grabbed the book and read it out. I appreciate your admiration- it’s been a lesson in non-reacting to challenging behaviour or circumstances indeed- but I’m valuing the good stuff that’s for sure. That’s great your Mum is still managing… but it’s only a matter of time… perhaps you need to have a conversation about the future with her?

      Liked by 1 person

      • My mum and I have had a bit of a conversation about putting her name on a waiting list for some sort of senior’s living complex or assisted living home, but with no action taken. Things are a bit complicated. I’m over 3000 km away with a still fairly young son at home (he’s 13), and, to be completely honest, “difficult relationship when growing up” is a massive understatement. Your recent posts, and your words β€” “a lesson in non-reacting” β€” reminds me of a book I read a few months ago: The Faraway Nearby, by Rebecca Solnit. It’s a memoir in which she discusses (among other things) taking care of her formerly abusive mother when she develops dementia. It was a hard read for me, because I’m not sure I have it in me to do the right thing. My brother still lives in the same city as my mum, and I’m hoping when push comes to shove he will be able to provide some support. I’m painfully aware this is a cop-out 😦 .

        Liked by 1 person

        • Phew yes, that does sound v tricky- I feel for you- assisted living is a fantastic option I desperately wish we’d pursued 5 years ago- take action now if you can- her decline is not going to go away. That book sounds incredible- thanks- I’m going to download it! Hugs, good luck, G πŸ™πŸΌ

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  4. I wish there was a Love button as well as a like πŸ™‚
    I am in a similar place to you, although my Mum doesn’t have dementia. At nearly 89, she has become frail over the past couple of years and living 3 hours away from her has compounded the anxiety I feel. A week ago, I had to make a dash for her place (not knowing what I would find and fearing the worst) and ended up admitting her to hospital with pneumonia (she wasn’t going to go without a fight however!). She is on the mend now and up with my brother (I am moving into a new home as I write), she will eventually come and stay with me for her convalescence. We have all had a big fright, especially she (I think that’s the correct grammar) and we all need to sit and talk candidly about the future. Our dear Mum needs us now and she is really not liking her loss of independence 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jenny- I’m glad you liked the post, and that your Mum is getting better- my Mum is fierce about her independence, and yet to be honest, she actually lost it a while ago, and just won’t admit it, which is very difficult for everyone. Indeed, sit and talk candidly: I have found this process very stressful, and am absolutely NOT going to put my own son through this as I age. What a shame our culture doesn’t value the elderly; I think that’s a big part of my Mum’s anxiety and restlessness. Best wishes hey, G πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my God, Gabrielle, this is incredible. Your Mum said two such powerful, compassionate, and forgiving-type things!!!! I can so see why you’d be grateful for your time with her, and for all that must have brought forward for you. I’ve been present lately to how the little touches in life often have the deepest meaning – almost beyond the word level.

    Sending you and your mum showers of blessings, Gabrielle. Thank you again for sharing this. And, if you’d like to contribute this post for #ForgivingFridays, I bet the readers of my blog would be touched as well.
    Love,
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, bless you Debbie, that’s so lovely that it touched you so much πŸ™‚ I appreciate the blessings showers too πŸ™‚ You’re always so generous πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the prompt once again- I’ll do it on Friday πŸ˜‰ xxOO

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was so sweet and touching! I’m so glad that you saw glimpses of your mother on this trip, and have those memories to hold on to. Love can transcend almost anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. β€œOut beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” This should be the mantra of every politician – they should look for the middle ground and just get on with tackling climate change, funding schools, health and libraries.

    The second quote was magical

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve just finished reading all your stories about visiting your mother, and found them very beautiful and very relevant. I’m an eighty year ln in a new glorious relationship with a much younger man and am the despair of my daughter, who is exactly as you described yourself..(maybe worse !!!). so your reconciiiation both with yourself and your mother was very beautiful to read… your honesty and courage moved me – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow Valerie, you sound like a pretty amazing woman! Good on you, and I’m honoured that you found the time in your busy life to read and comment- mother/daughter relationships are tricky in my experience, and I’m glad I had a son myself πŸ˜‰ I hope you and your daughter find some peace together, and perhaps have a giggle- I know Mum and I did, and it felt great. Blessings on your love and life, G xOO

      Like

  9. I’m catching up with your post and truly couldn’t stop reading about your time with your mom.So sweet,praising and loving.
    I feel it so much as I spent so much time with my grandma this summer .unfortunately she is a nursing home because her dementia became quite severe but she recognize everybody and we had long β€œcrazy” talk😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Mum’s definitely on the decline, but I did try and find the sweetness in it… thank you so much for reading so many posts and commenting Ortensia- enjoy your grandma as much as possible xO G

      Liked by 1 person

  10. There’s a lovely book-in-the-making here, with all the honest and heartfelt Musings on Mum that you have shared for the last year or so. I do hope you are saving all your words…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goodness, that’s a great idea Brian, thank you for being so positive! Yes, it’s all written down somewhere/here… maybe that’s what I’ll do with it… xO

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Loved this and how you are writing about these wonderful moments with your Mum…my Mum is 80 now and is beginning to have memory problems, especially when she is stressed – and she gets stressed easily, but reading this really resonates with me. So thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting Lynne- my Mum was the same I’m afraid- her anxiety definitely made her memory struggles worse, until we finally got the diagnosis… But there is absolutely still joy and pleasure and fun to be had! Thank you for reading and commenting πŸ™‚ G

      Liked by 1 person

      • My mum has always been anxious and a bit OCD about locking the house and with regard to preparing food etc – and it is hard on relatives. So allaying the anxiety is the way we go now, but of course there are limits to that. Thank you for sharing about your mum. My mum loves music, dancing, crosswords and reading – so yes, there is still pleasure in her life and therefore ours!

        Liked by 1 person

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