Mother-Daughter Pedicures / More Thoughts on Dementia

For Mother’s Day, I wanted to give Mom something we could experience together. Neither of us had ever had a pedicure before, so I took her to the nail salon for a mother-daughter date today. We had a great time! It was so good to hang out with her, get to relax together, and to see her giggling!

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I hope you’ll allow me to indulge in some gratuitous detail-keeping. I want to remember these moments.

Mom originally said she wanted a purple polish, but ended up choosing this pretty, shimmery blush pink instead. When it went on her toes, she seemed concerned that it wasn’t purple, but when I asked her if she liked the way it looked, she responded with a very enthusiastic, “yes!”, so I told her she’d made the right choice :). She kept talking about how pretty it was, so I’m glad she went with her gut instead of choosing something she thought she wanted but liked less. I chose my favorite shade of teal (which happens to match my favorite sandals). Afterward, we went for smoothies. Mom got chocolate (of course) and I got pineapple.

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These days, Mom and I don’t talk about a whole lot beyond what’s happening in the moment (“It’s hot out!” “This is yummy!” “Aw, look at that little girl” “I love that color” “I’m so glad to be here with you”), but I told her about obedience training with my dog, friends who had babies this week, and about a new band I’ve been listening to. She expressed her relief to be home and her worry that Dad’s working too hard. We’ve had these conversations over and over, but I remind myself that they deepen our connection even if the information isn’t new.

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The last time I wrote about her dementia here on the blog, I said that I was glad she’s at least happy. Well, she is happy when her kids are around, but she seems to be making an effort to be happy and hopeful the rest of the time. She’s shared with me that she’s scared of what the future may bring. She’s aware that things will probably get worse. She knows Dad is stressed, that her kids are sad, that she’s not as able as she used to be.

I don’t want to overstate her condition – she is still in the beginning stages of dementia. She’s not catatonic. It could be worse. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. It still sucks.

I always feel a little guilty talking about this publicly – am I betraying my sweet mother’s trust? I don’t know. I try to keep it focused on my feelings instead of sharing the specifics of her struggles. This is part of my story, and I want to write about it. So many of you have written me empathetic and encouraging messages (I can’t reply to them all, but I want y’all to know that they mean a lot to me!) so I know that sharing my experience has been valuable to others. I just hope I’m not betraying her. I don’t really know what the right thing is.

Dementia is still a cloud looming over us when we spend time together, but I feel like I am getting better about dealing with it. I don’t feel such deep sorrow every time I speak with her. I didn’t come home from our date today and sob like I would’ve in the past. I’m sad, but I’m (still) learning to cherish who she is now. She’s more emotive, friendly, silly, affectionate, she’s easily delighted, her love feels like it’s concentrated. These are all good things.

I still wish I could wish her illness away. But since I can’t do that, I will keep focusing on the positives. I’ll keep giggling with her, snuggling with her, delighting with her, and spending as much time as I can making new memories with her.

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I will always be grateful that I’m her daughter.

15 thoughts on “Mother-Daughter Pedicures / More Thoughts on Dementia

  1. Kelly, this is so beautiful and I feel it deeply, though on a different level, with a dad who has epilepsy and whose mind has had a lot of time of being away. His condition was still very different, but your perspective is such a thing that God had to give you and it’s beautiful.

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  2. On the contrary, you are most definitely NOT betraying her, but rather expanding her legacy. As you discuss on your blog, as you are comfortable, whether your, or your mother’s feelings, you are leaving a PERMANENT legacy. AND, I mean PERMANENT! What you write on the internet will still be on the internet when you are 90 years old, unless you proactively get rid of it. In your 20s, which is AMAZING BTW, you have already started to leave a PERMANENT legacy long past your death. I don’t want to scare you about death or anything. But, I do want to congratulate you in trusting to share what you have shared on your blog so far, and how many people you have, AND WILL, help in the future, in sharing you and your mom’s journey through this, as you feel comfortable. 🙂

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  3. Oh and it sounds like your mother has also given, and will continue to give, everyone the Grace around her the gift of reminding them to truly “be present” in the moment, since this moment is truly all any of us have, in the first place. 🙂 Thank You Kelli for sharing anything with regard to your process in all this.

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  4. Sweet, sweet Kelli. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s eye opening for me. So glad that you are learning how to cherish these moments with your mom. I can tell she is one special lady. ❤ Sending love, hugs, and prayers.

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  5. I think that as long as it’s cathartic for you, and as long as you handle it respectfully and truthfully, it’s okay to discuss your experiences and talk about how you feel here. And I think you’re doing that (writing respectful and truthfully). Handling this situation in the here and now, calmly and rationally, can only help you to handle similar situations in the future. These are your training grounds. You are finding things to be thankful for now, and learning to love someone you’ve always loved in a new and perhaps better way. 🙂

    On a lighter note, I *adore* your shoes and your teal nail polish. Teal is also one of my favorite colors. ;-P And aren’t pedicures lovely? I’ve only had one (before my wedding, four years ago!) but it was amazing. You’re making me think about indulging in another one sometime soon.

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  6. This made me cry. For the record, I don’t think you’re betraying your mom’s trust. This is as much a part of your story as it is hers, and blogging your thoughts and feelings can be such a healing part of the process. Sending you so much love and hugs. ❤

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  7. It seems like you seriously had a great time. Doing a first with her together is so cool!!!

    What you are going through is not easy, especially when you are concerned alongside your mom as to how her future looks. It must be terrifying for her to know she will be forgetting things that are important to her, and therefore her family is suffering with her. The love you share and the moments of being able to talk to each other even if it is about those here and now things, are definitely precious and mean a lot to her, I am sure. I am glad you can giggle and cuddle with her. That’s really lovely.

    I think that it may be a bit of a way to heal to share, though I don’t mean publicly necessarily, but with those whom you are especially close to in which you can go to (which I am sure you do). There might be people who read your blog who are going through similar things. Although she isn’t my mom, the fact that my Great-Aunt who has been pretty much the only Grandma to me ever doesn’t remember anything about me other than that I got married barefoot hurts big time (and how long will she even remember that for, I wonder). I spent summers with her and the memories are in there somewhere but not on the forefront. She totally loves me when she sees me, but doesn’t know why. This woman prayed daily for me, so man it is sad to watch. The memories your mother has will always be there somewhere, but she is incredibly young so this makes it so much tougher.

    I pray that each day she maintains all the memories she has and that God will renew her mind and help her through this as well as you and your family.

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  8. That was so sweet! I am sorry for you and your mother and I will be praying for you. One verse that keeps encouraging me in different situations is Romans 8:28. I hope it can encourage you also.

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  9. Pingback: 3 favorite blog posts | currentlykelli

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