Peel back the exhaustion, stress, and worry. Inside each caregiver you’ll find someone else: a child, husband or wife who gave and got love, never knowing they’d be sharing the future with dementia. Mother’s Day awakens the girl inside me whose mom looked cool in a mini dress, dancing the Jitterbug with my dad.
On Saturday nights, she was a tiny, blonde in heels and sparkly earrings. For church on Mother’s Day, she dressed my sister and me in pink skirts that matched her own. We sat in the pew like a row of tulips, bowing and raising our heads when she did.
Spring brings many reminders of those times. It might be the pastel flowers that make me think of Easter hats. But simple celebrations made Mom happy too. There was a long patch of grass that bordered an old garage near our house. Every May that strip of land gave birth to zillions of bluebells. On the way home from school, I often stopped to pick some for my mother. Sometimes I stayed ’til my tiny fingers couldn’t pluck another flower. Then I carried them up the hill to a woman who was worried sick because I was half an hour late. Sorry, Mom, I wanted that bouquet to be big as a meadow, grand as my love. When you’re six years old, that takes a long time.
This year we had fake Mother’s Day a little early. For a Mom with dementia, a Wednesday is just like a Sunday. It was the only time my sister and I could merge our schedules to bring us all together. We took Mom out to dinner and she was quite happy. Being fed by two daughters at once made her feel like a queen.
On fake Mother’s Day, we were caregivers. Dutiful, organized, and protective while other people stared at the mashed potatoes we spooned into her mouth. But today, as I spied a patch of bluebells, I felt like her child again. Remembering the race into the kitchen, flowers in hand, wanting to make her laugh with joy.
Those days are long behind us, but I picked some bluebells for my own pleasure. They remind me that being her child was a privilege; caring for her is sometimes like that, too.