If Costco understood my household, they would love Mom. The woman’s ability to use up paper products is astounding. I remember once when I was living on my own and Mom came to visit for Thanksgiving, she went to do “a little shopping” for me. She showed back up at my house with the largest pack of paper towels a person could ever need! At least, that was my naive twenty something opinion. At the time, I stashed the rolls away in a cabinet where they barely fit and didn’t need to buy more paper towels for a year.
Since Mom has moved in with me, I have come to better understand the jumbo paper towel package. Our household of three goes through that in no time at all. It would seem that to Mom, everything is made better by the addition of some kind of paper product.
As her dementia has worsened, this tendency seems all the stronger. She covers things with paper towels and tissues and wraps up various household items. It’s sometimes a fun game to see what Mom has wrapped up as a surprise. I restock several rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom only to find not a one just a day later. Every pocket must be checked when doing Mom’s laundry as there are tissues in every possible crevice.
My attempts to encourage the use of washable towels are rather pathetic in the face of this level of paper product enthusiasm.
So, every time I go shopping now, I find myself dragging home the largest packs of paper products I can find, only to repeat a month later. I just wish I could say that this abundance of paper towels was keeping our house a bit more spotless!
A few weekends ago, I took the family to a cabin in the woods overlooking a lake. I was hoping for a simple relaxing time together where I could read my book, build a fire, cook us a few nice meals. I found a simple state park and booked us there without giving it a lot of thought.
Upon showing up, Mom expressed that we were “in Minnesota,” her home state and spent the weekend delighted by the lake, the deer, the few remaining fall leaves on the mostly bare trees around us. Whatever it was that triggered the feeling of being in Minnesota, I cannot be certain. But Mom was happy. She spent much of the weekend in a rocking chair in front of my efforts to build a fire — pathetic the first night and better the second night!
I suspect that the feel of a small space shared with family in the beginnings of winter evoked deep memories of her childhood in that cold state. Of course perhaps that is her crazy daughter over analyzing the world. It may have been simply seeing the lake outside.
Mom often requests to go home. I don’t know exactly what she is hoping for in that home, but apparently we found it for a weekend. Minnesota is not such a long drive after all.
Mom has always loved Christmas. Christmas and Mom are such intertwined concepts for me and probably many people who know her. Mom always made Christmas special, and not just for our family. Her version of gift giving, baking and decorating would have given Martha Stewart a run for her money, and I would bet that woman has a whole crew. Mom’s Christmas parties were always the best.
So this was the first year where I was truly in charge of our Christmas. Two years ago Mom was still driving to go pick out Christmas presents for me. Last year, Mom was still the one who decorated our tree and would not let me touch it.
And then came this year. For the first time in my life, Christmas has really been my show. I decorated the house, planned the menu, bought and wrapped the gifts, sent the Christmas cards. I was proud of holding up many of our traditions from pulling crackers to drafting a Christmas letter for the cards.
But Mom showed that she is still the one who loves Christmas most. She came downstairs today ready for a Christmas party by accessorizing her pajamas with her sunglasses! For much of the afternoon, after pulling it off a package, she left a bunch of curly ribbon attached to her ear as decoration. And as we opened gifts, Mom switched to a southern drawl. I watched my mother sport her sunglasses, toss her head to shake her ribbon decoration and perform her idea of a southern belle. She may be having a tougher time all around these days, but Mom was still the one who brought the party on Christmas.
Merry Christmas from a house full of chaos, but also a lot of love and laughter!