Cook Book Memories

I shouldn’t keep it, but I can’t throw it away.  Dad cleaned out another cupboard and asked me if I wanted any of Mom’s cookbooks. I have a cupboard stuffed with cookbooks already.  But I had to look.  I had no problem turning away from the nice, new looking books.  But then I saw it. The tattered, falling apart Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  And I was helpless to turn my back on it.

The book was copyrighted in 1953. Mom probably started out with it as a young bride. And the cookbook was part of my whole childhood. The red and white gingham checks with the silhouettes of black pans on the cover shout home and comfort to me.

I leaf through the pages, many of them loose now because the holes have torn.  I look for some notations in Mom’s handwriting, and am disappointed to find none. The clues I have to the recipes she actually used are limited to food spatters and memories. She definitely used the pumpkin pie recipe…I can almost smell it now. And the cookie page is spattered, too. I can picture peanut butter ones coming out of the oven now.

I can’t look at the cookbook without a vision of Mom young and strong again.  And I see our whole family sitting around the table eating her delicious cooking.  I see my baby brother in the high chair between Mom and Dad. I feel the love and security of childhood wrap around me.

I shouldn’t keep it. In fact, I already have the identical cookbook that I inherited from my grandma. It’s worn and sun-bleached and has some notes in it that Grandma wrote. But it’s full of Grandma memories and gives me flashbacks to Grandma’s house.

The one I brought home today is Mom’s.  And full of Mom memories. I shouldn’t keep it, but I can’t part with it.

Maybe someday I’ll have grandchildren. And I’ll let them stand on chairs around the counter while we bake cookies together. And I’ll use Mom’s cookbook, and I’ll tell them all about their great-grandma and how I used to make cookies with her looking at this same cookbook and this same recipe.

Peanut butter cookies, cooked and on the bakin...

Peanut butter cookies, cooked and on the baking sheet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And we’ll roll peanut butter cookie balls and smash them with forks. And we’ll eat the warm, soft, sugary cookies with cold glasses of milk.  And we’ll make special new memories that build on past ones. And Mom will be part of them.

I shouldn’t keep it. But I won’t give it up.

What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

I was skimming some other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia.  I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy.  I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too.  And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her.  He is developing our tenderness and mercy.  God is giving us opportunities to show love to a dear mom who loved us all so well when she was able and strong. He’s sending us smiles and laughter with Mom’s quirky ways and funny words.  He’s challenging us to love faithfully when she is angry and difficult.

People with dementia are still people.  And God still has a plan for their lives. Even when they are bedridden and can do nothing at all, maybe their very life keeps us clinging to God more. Maybe their very existence draws us closer to God as we seek Him and cry out to Him.

I fear having AD someday myself. (My mind already concerns me too often.)  But if that day comes I’m not going to tell my kids, even jokingly, to just shoot me.  What I would say to them is this…. Pray and trust God to guide you.  Get as much help as you can.  I don’t want you to sacrifice your life plans or family for my sake, but I want to always be part of your life.

If you need to find a nursing home for me, I understand.  Pray about it and seek wisely. And then visit me often. Even if I don’t seem to know you, believe in your heart that part of me does.  Hold my hand and talk to me.  Tell me all about your life.  Sing to me and read the Bible to me, please.  Brush my hair and tell me memories of your childhood.

If I’m still able to chew be sure to bring chocolate.  (You know your mom.) And hopefully I’ll have some adorable grandchildren to marvel over.

And don’t forget to take some time to just sit quietly next to me. Hold my wrinkled hand and let God whisper to your soul.  I’m so sorry you have to go through this painful journey with me, but God will give you strength and grow you through it all.  Hold fast unto Him. Sink deep into His love.

Everything will be better in heaven.  Meanwhile, when I can’t talk anymore; just know that I love you forever and that being a mom to you was an honor and the delight of my life.

That’s what I’d say to my children. Oh, and I might throw in a “Be nice to your brother” for old-time’s sake.