Loving children seek ways to communicate with elderly parents, even when Alzheimer’s blurs memories, steals words and causes confusion. Each encounter is a challenge, as the disease progresses. Listeners sometimes share their stories, as Amy did.
The Mason Jar of Buttons
Spending time with my mother has always been special. Now that she is slowly slipping away to dementia, it is even more important. Mom has trouble focusing and remembering. So I look for things that will engage her. This day, I was thinking about buttons.
In the depression years, women wasted nothing. When a shirt or dress was too worn to wear, it was cut into pieces to make rag rugs, and the buttons were saved to reuse. Living in that time, my grandmother kept her buttons in a mason jar.
Decades ago, my mother had given it to me.
That simple mason jar had traveled with me from house to house, unopened, chuck full of buttons. Why did I keep them? I knew I would never use them… but I cherished them as part of my mother’s history.
As I dumped all those buttons into a bowl in front of her, a huge smile lit up my mother’s face. Running her fingers through them, she chattered on about what those buttons said to her. What kind of clothing they were on, who would have worn them and when. As she did, my heart swelled that I could bring her this measure of contentment.
How inclined we are to discard things from our past. If I had tossed that jar, unopened for two decades, I would never have seen my mother’s smile of recognition – at the mason jar full of buttons.
Thank you for letting me share this with you. Somehow, I knew you would understand.
Speaking from inside Alzheimer’s –
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
– Excerpt from a poem by Owen Darnell