Once again, this week may be one of my favorite features! Have you been enjoying It’s Not Just Me as much as I have? This Monday, I am featuring Tanya and her momma. Tanya is one person I rarely see but when I see her, oh my, do we hit it off! We can carry quite a long and equally enthusiastic about the elderly. Long lost friends, I tell you. I know…It’s not just me! And I’m not as crazy as I thought. =)=)
Tanya’s mom has end-stage Alzheimer’s and even as things get harder with her mom, I love how Tanya still has the same resolve to bring joy into her “mum’s” life. If you have a grandparent or parent who has Alzheimer’s or is near the end, I think you’ll find encouragement from today’s post.
Just another fact.. Tanya is not in the same town as her mom. In fact, she lives on the West Coast; her mom on the East Coast. But she tries to visit as often as she can and when she does, it seems like there are some exciting off-the-wall times.
Okay, Tanya, tell us about yourself!
I’m a 42 year old, stay-at-home mom of two amazing kids. I am generally enthusiastic about everything, and love to learn. I’m currently learning how to paint in oil and manage all the intricacies of starting a non-profit organization (www.auderenow.org). I enjoy reading, learning new languages, hanging out with older people and generally goofing around with my kids. Playing pranks on my family members also gives me more joy than it probably should.
Pranks on family members?? Is that allowed?!
Continuing on… what is something unique about your relationship with your mom?
I feel like I have always been close to my parents, but in their older years, I felt strongly about being primarily their advocate. That said, we have a very playful relationship. Although my mum is an end-stage Alzheimer’s patient, I still goof around with her as if she understands everything. If even one word/tone/syllable goes through to her brain or heart, then all my craziness is worth it. My 11-year old son, Caleb, also treats her similarly. On recent visits, he has been known to tell my mum jokes, braid her hair and give her “spa treatments” (basically lotioning her hands). Before my dad passed away two years ago, we also shared in a fair amount of silliness. I would wheel him through the halls of the nursing home pretending we were in an F-1 race, play “basketball” with his laundry, etc. I also loved telling my dad what I had learned about aging, mental health wellbeing of seniors, protecting the rights of seniors, etc., and he was always very encouraging.
That’s a fair amount of goofing off. Love it! What do you love most about your mom?
I love that she has aged so gracefully. Because my mum had a very tough upbringing and transition to the U.S., she could have easily become bitter and resentful toward God and those around her. Instead, I have seen her let go of grudges, and mellow into a peaceful, gentle lady.
I hope that one day we too can all mellow into peaceful and gentle people.
What is one thing you do to make your “mum” smile?
I love singing to my mum! I usually choose old hymns that she would have sung 50-60 years ago, and then belt it out! The two of us have a tradition of singing together — in fact, when I moved away from home decades go, we would call each other around Christmas especially to sing carols together on the phone. Somehow neither of us felt it was strange at all!
Is there any activity that you enjoy doing with your mom?
I loved taking classes in the community with my mum. In college and during the year before I moved to the West Coast, we took all sorts of short courses together — cake decorating, flower arranging, etc. I volunteered a lot in the community as a young adult, and my mom would invariably think that someone would be unkind to me. She would then “threaten” to join me, and since I didn’t mind her participation either way, I was totally open to it. On many occasions, she not only joined me, she gave and got more than I did from the experience! The best example of this is when she accompanied me to a nursing home in Rockville, where I wanted to practice my very basic language skills with Russian-speaking residents. In order to “protect” me, my mom tagged along. Even though she didn’t know a single word in Russian, she was able to express joy and love and acceptance to the residents. By God’s mercy and amazing blessing, both my mom and dad ended up at that very nursing home – 20 years later!
How old is she?
She would hate for me to tell you. All I say is that I can double my current age and be within a year or two of hers. 🙂
You are one good daughter, Tanya! Not even sharing her age. =) That’s respect! Okay, last note, what is one cool fact about your mom?
My mom worked for Cadbury’s (yep, the chocolate company!) when we lived in Bombay. According to family lore, it was company policy that she quit her job before she had her second child. Because I’m the 4th, I never got to taste the benefits of working for a chocolatier.
I love chocolate so I know, even without meeting her that your momma is one special lady!!!
Some people think that as someone declines, there is less reason to visit. But I think what Tanya shows is that when you love someone, you know that even though they are less responsive, they deserve just as much goofing off, love, and cheer brought to them. I love how you show that presence still matters, Tanya. Thank you for sharing creative ways to spend time and love on our older parents. So so so so special.
Readers, if you loved today’s post, please LIKE it, share it, and don’t forget to check out last week’s feature, It’s Not Just Me – Sarah (Grandparent/Great Grandparent Edition).