A Walk to Remember
I was proud of myself today for bringing Mom home from the mall with absolutely no displays of anger. It was an intense effort to be with her and talk to her in a deferential, unquestioning manner, one of the tips I have learned from the book, Contented Dementia: 24-Hour Wraparound Care for Lifelong Well-being by Oliver James.*
Along with asking no questions, the book suggests deferring to Mom in a way that builds her self-esteem as the one who knows more than me. When we were humming and walking to what I later learned was one of Rachmaninoff’s piano concertos, Mom hummed a part of the music I didn’t know. I complimented her on knowing the music so much better than me.
“That’s because I’m older,” she asserted.
That’s not to say she didn’t grumble or comment negatively on cars, the path, other people, even my selection of music to sing. But it never flared beyond a low discontentment.
As we neared her house, Mom was visibly tired. This was one of the hardest sections of our walk to navigate because Mom doesn’t remember where she lives.
When she adamantly told me that the door in front of us was the door to her apartment, I did not stop her from knocking. I tried to persuade her verbally that, yes, it was a lovely door, but not the one for us.
Fortunately, she found it locked and allowed me to lead her to her own door. And if someone had answered, I would have improvised in as positive a manner as I could. I want to relinquish the guilt I feel when I am incapable of helping Mom out of her worrisome emotions and wrong turns.
I’m only with her for a short time during her week, but I anticipate that, together with my dad, we can positively change the way she interacts with the world. This method of talking to Mom is counter-intuitive. It will require a leap of faith on his part.
For now, we seem to be in an okay place. I am encouraged.
Today is Valentine’s Day. If the mall we visited is any indication, this holiday has Israel gripped in its red-hearted glory. Even I got into the spirit of the day: I made heart-shaped brownies with mini peanut butter cups. I even found a cookie tin featuring Romeo and Juliette to put them in. Baking sweet indulgences helps me move forward even in the face of difficult challenges and depressing realities. What better way to reward myself today for a good performance with Mom. And I promise to share them with my beloved.
Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
I’ve been saving the mini peanut butter cups we were recently gifted for just this purpose. I undoubtedly take after my father in his love of chocolate.
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup mini peanut butter cups (or more!)
½ cup chopped walnuts
In a medium-sized bowl, mix oil and sugar. Add in eggs and beat well. Measure out dry ingredients and add to the bowl, stirring slowly until all ingredients are blended. Fold in nuts and chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake muffins at 350° for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
*Contented Dementia: 24-Hour Wraparound Care for Lifelong Well-being by Oliver James, Vermillion, London, 2008.