Sunday, July 18, 2010
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Coming up mother's driveway, I can see a tiny head with black hair rising up from her front porch. "Mother!" I call, "come open the door." Standing with a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a medicine baggy in the others, she finally arrives at the garage door. There she was, green turtleneck, coffee cup in hand, and eyes big as quarters as she sees the ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwiches which I hurriedly threw together for her lunch.
Today is Sunday and my memory takes me back to all the delicious dinners that mother prepared for me and others almost every Sunday of my life before dementia came. Now, I know this statement is debatable, but I honestly believe that my mother was the best cook I have ever known. Holiday meals and Sunday dinner was a special time in my life. The menu would consist of her melt in your mouth pot roast, twice baked sour cream and onion potatoes, strawberry nut salad, green beans cooked to perfection, the best ever sweet tea, homemade biscuits and one of her fantastic cakes; German Chocolate, Lemon Pound, or Carrot Cake. For me to be presenting her with two measly little sandwiches for Sunday lunch was unimaginable. But, if you knew mother now, this is her style of eating. No more healthy meals, no more veggies, no more homemade anything. Her taste buds are reserved for Hershey bars, crackers and cheese, nuts, chicken salad and BLT's, with her drink of choice being a grape propel, coffee or a Pepsi.
I asked if her coffee was cool enough that she could swallow her pills. As usual, she asked, "What are all these pills for?" Then she would answer her own question with "Heart and Fart?" Then she proceeds to count them. This scenario plays out just about every morning.
Finishing up with some small chores, I ask mother if she'd like to sit for awhile. Just as I thought, she headed for the front porch. As we sat there, counting the cows and watching humming birds drink from their feeders, Annie laying at her feet, mother began to reminiscence about her father, John Williams. I had heard this one many times but I let her tell it again so we could have a laugh.
"Daddy was a tall man of some 6 feet, 4 inches, he liked to dabble in local politics and was head of the School Board. He had a bad habit of passing gas and blaming it on somebody else, usually one of the children. One night, it was colder than I could ever remember, so we let the dogs come in and lay by the fire. We heard a knock at the door and it was some of daddy's school board friends. I told them to come in and I left the room, but me and my brother Ralph listened to all that was being said in the next room. Daddy was rared back by the fire, talking big, with the dogs laying at his feet. All of a sudden he started hollering at the dogs and telling his school board friends that those dogs smelled something awful. The poor things, they were put out in freezing temperatures for something he had done!" We got a big laugh out of that and she began to tell one more.
"Me and Ralph were the only two full blooded siblings left at the house, so we kinda buddied around together. Ralph had a cow he was going to sell and I had one that I had been taking care of and called it mine. Well, daddy promised us that whichever one sold, we could keep part of the money. There was a man coming to look at both of the cows, me and Ralph hurried to the barn to milk so we could show him how much milk they gave. My cow had much bigger teats than Ralph's and gave a bucket full of milk where as his cow only gave a half bucket. Seeing this and knowing that the man would buy the one who produced the most milk,Ralph made up some fool excuse for me to run to the house to get something for him. Since he was the oldest, I obliged. When I got back, he had poured half of my bucket into his so his bucket would be full. Daddy and the man were walking into the barn and I couldn't say a word. Ralph sold his cow and daddy kept his promise and gave him the money." I had never heard that one before but we both laughed really hard.
Mother, like most dementia patients, can remember events which happened many years ago, but barely anything now. I said goodbye and laughed about her stories all the way to church and I must admit, even while the preacher preached.