Filling in the Gaps, An Unexpected Gift

Puzzle piece“It deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

You’ve no doubt received a version of the above phrase via email long ago. It is one of many examples of how capable our minds are at filling in gaps and solving puzzles, be it a partial picture or a sentence in which the words are totally misspelled.

That ability doesn’t go away with dementia.

Yesterday was Mom’s Birthday.

Mom Birthday Table 2013_3

My family and I provided flowers, cake and ice cream.  I provided a bright silly hat (which Mom didn’t care for).

Mom Birthday Table 2013_4a      Mom Birthday Cake 2013_4

Mom enjoyed herself and especially enjoyed her treat, having two servings of the cake and ice cream.  When I told her that she was 87 that day, Mom gave me a puzzled look and exclaimed, “You don’t expect me to remember all that do you?”  “No,” I replied with a smile. “You don’t have to anymore.”  As we always do, we laughed and played together and Mom talk by phone with my sister.

A highlight of the visit however was a seeing Mom in a familiar mode. The facility where she is at will often provide the female residents with toy baby dolls to hold. The residents in this Alzheimer’s facility do not know that the baby’s are not real.  These long-time Moms hold, cuddle and talk to “their” dolls as if they are real babies.

Mom was doing exactly that when I arrived. She quickly informed me that it was her grandbaby and made sure that I was extra careful around “him,” not shaking the couch or being too loud.

So often with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia we focus on what is lost.  I love @G-J ‘s post regarding what Dementia cannot do. Dementia has not taken away a role Mom had been perfecting for over 60 years. Mom will always be Mom.

Birthdays are perfect opportunities to show someone you love and appreciate them. This time I got something priceless in return, I saw a glimpse of how Mom must have been holding my siblings and I as infants. I saw how much she loved us, even though she can no longer state so with words. Her actions spoke loud and clear!

Happy Birthday, Mom. We love you too!

Mom Doll Birthday 2013_3

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6 Comments on "Filling in the Gaps, An Unexpected Gift"

Profile photo of Denise
Mar 24, 2013

Oh, my, Jo, this is soooo sweet. I love the look on your mom’s face–full of awe and pride.

You are right–now you know how your mom looked at you and your siblings–with love, awe and pride.

So glad you could put together some of the pieces.

Profile photo of Richard
Mar 24, 2013
Profile photo of ejourneys
Mar 24, 2013

Your mom is beautiful, Jo. And radiant! What a wonderful gift to you for her birthday. :-)
And your post, overflowing with love, is a gift in itself. Thank you for this.

Profile photo of
Mar 24, 2013

Hi, Jo. A wonderfully written post. When you get a chance, could you respond to the message I sent you via Thanks.

Profile photo of Pegi
Mar 24, 2013

What a beautiful tribute to your Mom and to you. You took the gift she could offer, and turned her birthday into a celebration of her life. Agreeing with the others; your Mom looks radiant and happy. God Bless you and your family.