When I picked my granddaughter Kendal up yesterday afternoon for our movie theater date, we had a little more than 2 hours to kill. Usually we go to Chick-Fil-A so she can eat and play, but she said she’d rather go somewhere else. Before I knew it I was asking her, “Do you want to go see my Mom?”… “YES!” she said, and asked “where does she live?” I explained that she lived in a group home that was on our way to the movie theater. “What’s a group home?” she asked. I did my best to explain what a group home was, and that Mom lived there because she needs help doing her every day tasks and can’t live alone. For a minute she said nothing, then said “ok, I’m going to color her a picture in the coloring book”. She worked steadily on coloring and while she was coloring I asked if she remembered the Easter Egg hunts we did with Mom when she was younger and she said she did! I then tried to find the right words before sharing that Mom wasn’t going to remember her name or the things we’d done together. She stopped coloring and asked sadly “She’s not going to remember me?” I had to say no, and told her that Mom no longer remembers me either. “Oh…” she said.
Kendal finished coloring the picture just as we arrived at Lifesprings Eldercare. She colored my favorite, which is the first picture I chose for our coloring book and declares that I love my Mom, “to the moon and back”.. Something Mom used to say to us all the time. Kendal bounced out of the car and rushed to the front door. When Janet the caregiver opened the door, Kendal confidently marched right up to Mom. Mom seemed to recognize her for a split second and said “Oh, HI!!”. Kendal said “Look I colored this for you”.
Mom smiled and said “oh, it’s pretty” and Kendal beamed. Kendal then told Mom “I wrote my name in cursive so you’ll remember that I made this for you”. Mom read the words on the page over and over while Kendal held the book steady so she could see. I had to get up and go in the kitchen with the caregiver so I wouldn’t cry. Then Kendal asked if she could see Mom’s room. So I gave her the tour and she asked a lot of questions. She liked Mom’s bed and said it was “great”. She then checked out the bathroom outside of Mom’s room, and asked why the shower was so big. I explained that Mom needs help in the shower and the caregivers sit her on the shower seat and help her to get clean. Kendal sat in the shower seat and said “Mommy used to help me in the shower too”. I was thrilled that she seemed to really get it, that Mom is almost in a “baby-like state”. How true that is!
When the tour was over we went back to the living room with Mom and hung out with her until it was time for dinner! Kendal showed Mom her dance moves and did flips, twirls and splits. Mom seemed to love the performance and at one point she clapped and said “yay”! Mom then began reading the birthday card I gave her last month which has all of the important events that occurred in 1929 when she was born. Kendal listened intently to Mom read the card several times, barely taking her eyes off of Mom as she read. I wondered what Kendal was thinking but didn’t want to interrupt the moment.
I had the most amazing time watching Kendal and Mom together. We got ready to leave as they sat the residents at the dining table. Mom is walking much more slowly these days, but needs little help to get to the table. After she was seated at the table, Mom said to us “I’m going to have dinner now”. As we put our coats on, I said to Mom “we will see you next time” and Kendal said “bye! see you next time”. When we got to the car I asked Kendal if she wanted to come see Mom again, and she said “Yes!”. I wonder why I waited so long to take Kendal to see Mom, especially since they always got along so well when Kendal was 2 and 3 years old. As Kendal got older, I wanted to explain dementia to her but never did, even though I have a beautifully illustrated book that explains dementia to kids. I’ve always said that Kendal could adapt to anything, so I should have gotten them together sooner.
As part of my Lenten discipline, I’ve ben journaling my prayers, my spiritual practices, and how I’m enhancing my relationship with God. Watching Kendal and Mom together was incredibly spiritual for me. Kendal was calm, attentive and patient. Mom was receptive, happy and as attentive as she can possibly be. Their smiles and joy of being with each other once again provde to me that living in each moment is priceless. I almost forgot that we needed to get to the movie theater. Kendal and I enjoyed the movie immensely, yet several times during the film my mind switched back to the amazing connection I’d witnessed betwen Mom and Kendal. I’ll be scheduling the next visit for the two of them right away. We never know how much time we have left, but I want them to have as much of a relationship as is possible for the time that Mom has left. I believe I owe them both that. I certainly hadn’t planned a visit to see Mom yesterday, but it was the best unplanned visit EVER! Thank you Mom and Kendal for making yesterday special for me! Love you both to the moon and back!
This is such a wonderful testimony to the connection between generations and the continuity of family and love. That Kendall is an absolute delight is easy to see from your description of her interactions with your mom and from the pictures. This relationship with your mom will be so meaningful to her in years to come, not to mention how important her relationship with you clearly is. I have this picture of you standing in the middle holding your arms around the past and the future and bringing them together in that great heart of yours!
I’m so glad your mom had the wonderful gift of Kendall’s presence yesterday and vice versa. And I’m so glad you witnessed what love is all about, what God is all about in your mom’s group home yesterday. I’m also glad you shared this beautiful story with those of us not lucky enough to actually witness it. It gives me hope and joy to know about it.
Thank you for watching and sharing your stories of love and grace, Loretta. They mean so much to me.
Loretta, what Karen has written encapsulates well, far better than I can say/write, my reaction to this lovely post. Generational connections. Yes. Familial continuity. Yes. Love’s continuity. Yes.
The only thing that occurs to me to add is that, in the language of the Celtic tradition, this moment in time is what I’d call “a thin space” when the separation between heaven and earth disappears. In that light, aye, that reality I sense in your experience with Kendal and Doris the fulfillment of that petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father…Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Thank you for sharing this vignette, as Karen writes, “of love and grace.”
Oh WOW Paul!! Thing space??? You know I’m going to use this in my Lenten writing right??? I hope it’s ok! “on earth as it is in heaven”….. YES, I’ve had several experiences of late where I felt I was watching or experiencing something that was heavenly…. Since then I’ve looked at the words of the Lord’s Prayer so differently.
Thanks for these words!!!
You’re more than welcome Karen! I’m sooooo grateful that I took her to visit!! I’m glad my words captured it as I remember it! I sure do wish I had gotten them together before now, but schedules and timing never worked out. YES I believe Kendal will remember this for a long time. She still remembers intimate details of our 2015 trip to Utah, our last trip with Tim, and she definitely remembers those Easter Egg hunt and LEGO building sessions we had with Mom. She’s learning first hand about diseases that impact us even when we don’t look sick! I’m thrilled that you’re on this journey with us!! It’s quite the ride for sure!
Much love back to you!!
Such a wonderful blessing.
It was sooooo awesome Lt., Col., Gen!!
Good Morning Loretta,
Your blogs are an inspiration to me! I appreciate as well as thank you for opening up your heart sharing these very special experiences, moments, and time. Your spiritual reflections are encouraging it reminds me of my Clinical Pastoral Education training, opening up, sharing with one another our deepest and intimate thoughts.
Your experience (training) with a person with dementia touched my soul, to go through I could tell was highly emotional for you. I visualize you sharing your experiences at one of your events. Then to share with us your precious granddaughter visit with your mom was truly overwhelming! I am so happy, thankful you took her to see your mother. We learn a lot from our children 😊. I could feel the joy it gave you as well as the tears that filled your eyes. The pictures says more than you know 🤗.
I feel bless as well as humble to you for sharing your life with me. Thank You so very much! Blessings and Love,😍🥰
Thank you soooo much Belinda!! I’ll never forget when we first met and have been friends since that moment!!!!! Yes these writings are very emotional for me but healing too!! Don’t know where I’d be without my blog over these past few years!! I’m so grateful to my readers for being on this journey with me, especially you!! I’m so grateful that I’m inspirational to others!!
Sending you much love this morning!!!