I stepped out of my door today and a gust of wind hit the trees and bright yellow leaves swirled around me and over me. I walked through the yard as the leaf confetti showered down on me. And I smiled as I reveled in the unique beauty of the day.
Every day is unique. But some are more beautiful than others. And some are bare branch days.
Like one day last week when I fed Mom lunch and she didn’t say a word. I talked to her. I asked her questions. I sang our songs. I told her who I was several times. She kept opening her mouth and eating, but was unresponsive to me.
Until towards the end of the meal, when she suddenly looked me right in the eyes, took a big breath, and asked, “Who are you?”
“I’m Cheryl, Mom. I’m your daughter, Cheryl…” Mama frowned and squeezed her eyebrows together and up, in a concerned look.”Or Sherry. Sometimes you call me Sherry…. I love you, Mama. And you love me.”
Mama rolled her eyes and looked at the ceiling and shook her head back and forth a bit.
But today, as my daughter was caring for her Grandma, Mom asked, “Where’s Sherry?” And when Annie told me she’d asked for me my heart was so thrilled.
Annie also said that she told Mom that she loved her. And Mom asked, “What for?”
Annie answered, “For many, many, many, many, many, many, many reasons.”
And Mom replied, “Two more!” And we couldn’t help chuckling at her delightful greediness.
Looking out my window now, I see many trees, their branches waving in the wind on this crisp, fall day. Some of the trees still have mostly green leaves. Some have yellow leaves. One has bright orange leaves. In the middle of it all is a tree with almost totally bare branches.
It reminds me of the other day. I was walking home from caring for Mama, and I found a small, red Maple leaf, only about an inch and half long. It was so tiny, but so lovely. For some reason it made me happy and I picked it up and carried it home.
And it makes me think…Winter is coming. But right now there is still beauty to be noticed and cherished in this season with Mama. Someday the trees will all be bare. But now there are still moments of color swirling around in these windy days. Sweet, tiny moments of mercy to pick up and press close.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is a season of learning to focus on the beauty of the bright moments that are still there and not on the branches that are bare.
It’s a time to stop and notice those tiny touches of tenderness. And someday, when the trees are totally bare, and winter chills away the last bits of color, we can take great hope in spring and an eternity with Jesus.