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You, Me and Alzheimer’s

February 4, 2013

Warning: This is an up-close post about an aging family. If you’re having a bad day or were looking for light reading, click away. We can meet up another time. Or, here goes…

My mom’s Alzheimer’s/dementia/whatever-you-call-this-horrible disease has reached a point where two of my greatest fears have come true: She no longer recognizes me and she can’t live at home anymore.

In the messy aftermath, I realized there was an even greater fear lurking — that my mother wouldn’t love me anymore. But, my sweet mom showed this would never be the case, no matter how much Alzheimer’s separated us. And, she did so on a card game score pad during my recent visit.

She loves, loves, loves playing cards and she also loves winning, which means we always keep score. Since she didn’t know who I was, she just wrote “You” and “Me” at the top of the sheet. When I saw that, my mind hurtled back to something she said during a phone conversation this past summer, when she wasn’t so sick.

When I was hanging up, I told her that I loved her, just as I always do. Then, she answered in a sing-song voice, “I love you and you love me and that’s the way it will always be.”

So, despite what is awaiting mom, me and the rest of our family, I know there will always be love. And, hopefully, lots more card games.

You and Me, August 2011

You and Me, August 2011

 

 

 

 

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So that I can learn to have a heart filled with love and gratitude.

A letter from Lenis on Mother’s Day weekend.

Dear sponsors,

I am greeting you with much love hoping you are in good health. I send you my best wishes. We hope you are having a happy Easter. Christian likes to go to the river and play in the water. I want to tell you that it is very hot and we enjoy the shade of the trees, we have plenty around the house. It is beautiful. Christian likes to play soccer with his cousins. We go to church on Sundays, we pray for you and your family. He is in first grade, and he has a good time at school. He is getting good grades. Thanks to your help he received a backpack; he also has clothes, shoes, and food supplies. We love you very much. We ask God to give you good health and keep you away from harm. We ask him to provide just like you do with Christian. We always pray for you and your family, we love you very much. I am closing now on behalf of my child Christian.

May God Bless You.

Letter from Lenis, artwork from Christian

Here’s a whole-wheat recipe I’m sharing with my TEDxICT friends tonight. You can make it even more “home-made” by buying wheat berries from a local whole food store. Then, use a blender to grind the berries into whole wheat flour. (Be sure to refrigerate any leftover flour.)

Hope you enjoy.

Makes: Eight individual flat breads or pizza crusts, or two large pizza crusts; Prep time: 20  minutes, plus rising

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water

2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast

1/4 cup oil, plus more for bowl

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading

2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

STEPS:

1. Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

2. In bowl with yeast,  whisk sugar, oil and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Turn dough out into a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.

To freeze 1-pound balls:

Set balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months.  Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

To freeze individual shells:

Divide each ball of dough into 4 pieces. Using your hands, stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let it rest a few minutes). Freeze shells on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Stack frozen shells between layers of parchment paper. Freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Bake from frozen.

(From “Martha Stewart, Everyday Food.”)

This is how I know. I never hung that mirror that is so handy in the utility room. That dining room wall clock is not my style, but I would never think to move it. There are canning jars and baby bottles that were stashed in the cellar before I was born.

I am the third generation to live in this old farm house. I am the third mother that cleaned after her kids and worried about her kids and thanked God for her kids. I am the third wife that loved her husband with all her might.

Sometimes, I wonder about living in a house that was only mine, that I helped design or pick out. But, then, especially at the holidays, it’s so warm to share Darlene and Marie’s home.

In the Woods

November 25, 2011

On a  cold, gray, windy, post-Thanksgiving day, D., E., Cesar and I headed to the woods.

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