Saturday, December 13, 2008


"We do not remember days, we remember moments." (Cesare Pavese)

Curious, isn't it, how long-forgotten memories can pop, front and center, out of nowhere? The other day I was up as usual at 4AM -- nursing a cup of coffee out back, marveling at the night sky .. and suddenly started giggling. OK, I'll share:

Not that many years ago, my mother's declining health mandated her relocation to an assisted living facility. Despite initial concerns regarding her assigned roommate, E. and R. became what the staff referred to as "Frick n' Frack, two peas in a pod."

Seemingly the only thing they had in common was the cruel diagnoses of advanced dementia. Yet, they took such delight in one another! Despite her mind's atrophy, mamma was always soft-spoken and courteous. Too, she fiercely remained a "hard-wired" Lutheran. R. on the other hand was Jewish, funny as heck, and well ... let's say, feisty -- you never knew what would come out of her mouth! Hence, this recollection:

One Sunday in December, I arrived at "Shady Oaks" (pseudonym) to assist dressing mamma in her favorite navy shirtwaist for "church" down the hall. Rushing, so as not to be tardy, when R. wheels in, demanding to know where we were going. Announcing that she, too, wanted to go.

Glancing about, I saw no avenue of escape. Uh ... OK. Reasoning, this can't be that bad.

When we entered the chapel, however, I immediately spotted the sacrament on the make-shift altar and realized this was the first Sunday of the month. Uh-oh. Wouldn't you know, the only remaining spot for their wheelchairs was front and center.

"What's that?" R. asks loudly, pointing to the creche. At once, I'm pressed to try and recall the exact teachings of Judaism. Instead, I attempt a diversion, offering her the hymnal. "Let's sing, sweetie."

Nervous as a mother hen, I scarcely heard the clergy. Glancing at the doorway, wondering if R's daughter would suddenly appear, demanding to know what's going on. Dreading the moment of Holy Communion. Oh please God, please don't let him say those words, "This is the body of Christ, given ...."
But I'm prepared: Near enough to cough loudly over R's "Whaaaat?!?"

Later, I felt obligated to share with R's daughter that her mother been to church and had in fact, participated in Holy Communion. Happily, she found the revelations humorous and thanked me for showing her mom a good time. (Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?)

Sadly, both my mother and R. passed within months of each other after the New Year. But like the song says, "It's the laughter, we will remember....."


  1. This post brought back memories. My mother also died in a nursing home with dementia. The thing that makes me smile is that not long after she had moved into the home they were having a dance in the fellowship area. My mother was out there just dancing up a storm. She loved to dance when she was in high school, but as far as I know had not danced since then. For almost all her life she was a member of a church that frowned on dancing. And I mean realllly frowned on dancing. With her dementia she forgot all about that evidently and was enjoying dancing again. It's nice to find something good about having dementia. It isn't easy.

  2. I hope you get comments from this far back. I loved the story. Yeah and Tom did look different then.
    I would have loved to have been in the church service.. Amazing how the mind handles things better than we thought.

    Love it lady!

  3. Oh how I can relate personally to Charlotte's comment.


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