For months, I’ve been working on my book on dementia and creativity. I’ve been so inspired by all the artistic people who know so many exciting ways to connect through creativity.
My mother’s sense of creativity and playfulness thrived in her last years. But there was one other part of her that was also in full force as well. See if you can identify with this Halloween tale that I first shared last year.
Do you remember trick or treating as a kid, racing down the street, dressed as a superhero or a princess or a witch, eager for treats? When I was growing up, I loved the freedom and surprise of that holiday and I continue to love the scintillating spookiness and dramatic dress of the holiday. Here’s a story about a Halloween gift I received in a memory care unit. Click here if you’d like to watch a video of the story or read on, if you prefer the written word. Either way, I hope you’ll “treat” yourself right this October 31.
My Caregiver’s Two-Letter Halloween Treat
On my mother’s last Halloween, her memory care unit held a party. Pam, the nurse, brought a basket brimming with hats, shawls, and scarves. Pam set a floppy white hat on Mom’s silvery curls and draped a lacy purple shawl over her shoulders. In her new adornments, Mom looked both puzzled and happy.
But during the “treat” portion of the Halloween celebration, which featured M & M’s and chocolate chip cookies, Mom’s smile was unambiguous. All her life, Mom had adored sweets and her Alzheimer’s had not dimmed her enjoyment.
Then small children paraded through the facility, dressed as princesses, witches, super heroes, and ghosts. Volunteers handed the residents wrapped tootsie rolls.
“For the children,” they said.
Mom smiled at the adorable kitty cats and pirates who chanted “Trick or treat,” in wispy voices, but she did not relinquish her hold on the sweets; she did not share her candy.
“Mom, would you like to give the children some of your candy?” I asked as my mother gripped her treasure.
“No,” she said.
No. The word floated through my mind and I gazed at Mom, my mouth open, my mind euphoric. Perhaps I should have been chagrined at her selfishness but instead I was thrilled that she had actually responded to my question. It was the closest we’d come to conversation in weeks. I laughed with delight. Mom laughed.
For that moment, we were two women, laughing at ourselves, laughing at life, simply laughing. For me, it was a most wondrous and unexpected treat.
Please share one of your unexpected treats.
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.