Today marks one week since my Wonder Woman Mom Doris took her last breath. Much of the week I’ve spent reading through the incredible messages people have posted on social media in response to Mom’s death. I have never met most of the people who provided comments and messages and will likely never meet them in person. YET we’ve formed a close bond through the love of my Mom and LEGO bricks.
Mom’s favorite subject in school was geography and she declared as a young girl that she would be traveling outside of her birthplace of Washington, D.C. to see the world. Unfortunately, life happened and there wasn’t time or money to travel as Mom raised my sister and I as a single mom.
When I became a working adult and began traveling Mom traveled vicariously through me and my husband Tim. I always purchased souvenir photo books from everywhere we went so that she’d have both the photos and the history of each place we visited. She read every book and brochure over and over to continue to experience the world from her comfy chair. I had no idea then that Mom would eventually travel the world in her own way.
When she was diagnosed with dementia I began speaking and sharing my Mom and our lives with family and professional caregivers around the country. I shared hundreds of photos of me and Mom that showed not only the progression of the disease, but also the joy that you could take from it too. People marveled over Mom’s facial expressions when we were playing with the LEGO bricks and the joy on the faces of caregiving participants in my LEGO Serious Play sessions. When COVID arrived and it became necessary to reach people virtually, I enhanced my LEGO Serious Play facilitation in 2020 by receiving training as a virtual facilitator of the method from the amazing Sean Blair, Founder of SERIOUSWORK!
Suddenly my social media posts of Mom building with LEGO bricks were being read by lots of other senior living professionals and LEGO Serious Play facilitators around the world. But I had no idea how impactful my posts with Mom had become until she died. So far I received messages from people from 16 countries including Qatar, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, The Netherlands, England, India, Nigeria, Poland and our neighbor Canada. The comments about us and our work have been incredible! Here are just a few…
“You and your Mom inspired me in countless ways and I began using LEGO bricks with my family too”.
“Your bond with your Mum was extraordinary and I will miss seeing her priceless facial expressions.”
“It has been an honor to watch your caregiving journey together. You both radiate wonderful energy and light.”
“The way you shared her journey and the details of her life and your visits was a remarkable testament to the beautiful bond between you both.”
“Your passion for LEGO Serious Play is outstanding and your work is inspiring for everyone all over the world”
I’m going to save all of the messages that have been posted because they are some of the most uplifting messages I’ve ever received and I know I will need to re-read them on the tough days when I’m missing my Mom. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that people around the world were able to see who my Mom was in spite of her dementia. They saw her spirit and her faith and her incredible kindness!
I couldn’t have asked for a better Mom, and even though I wish that she had done the traveling she wanted to do, through her dementia she was able to share her journey and her spirit in a way that would never have been possible if she had simply been a tourist. The photos I took of me and Mom aren’t of landmarks from different cities, but are of us on a real-life journey that have become part of our legacy! From Mom’s armchair, wheelchair and bed we showed the world that even though dementia is a horrible disease we don’t have to let it steal our joy! Rest well my Wonder Woman!! I’m so proud of your fight, your wit and your unwavering faith – and I’ll carry our legacy on from here! Love you forever!