Dad was an introvert while Mom was the talker. They made a great team and even though Mom’s personality stays intact, she seems a bit more closed off since her beloved Hank graduated to heaven.
Yet … our family remains strong and devoted to one another. Mom is still and always will be the matriarch.
She comes from a long line of matriarchal women who raised their children with leather belts and switches from the trees. Women who knew how to kill a chicken, then strip its feathers and fry it to a golden brown.
Women who worked a job outside of home, shopped for the harvest crew and put a huge meal on the table so that hungry men found sustenance. Then woke early the next morning and did it all over again.
Women who fiercely protected their children, used every resource available and saved enough money so their kids could attend college without going into debt.
During this holiday season, we will drive Mom to the same farm where she raised us. I will buy a pecan pie and Cool Whip so she can have her favorite Thanksgiving treat.
She will sit at the table and occasionally speak. When she does, we will listen – even if it doesn’t quite make sense. Because she is the Mom, the grandmother and now – the great-grandmother.
And sometimes, as she sits in the recliner beside the fire, I will catch her with a look on her face and wonder, What is she thinking?
Is she homesick for heaven? Probably. Is she missing her husband, her mother, her grandmothers who taught her so much? Certainly.
Is she remembering those days when she fixed the entire Thanksgiving meal, then organized the clean-up crew, saved all the leftovers and planned how she would make the budget stretch so that every child had a special gift on Christmas? I would bet so.
And sometimes – in the glow from the fire – I see in her the features of all the matriarchs before her and I know Alzheimer’s can never destroy those family ties.
That same strength has been shared with my siblings and I. We have attempted to pass it on to our children so that faith, determination and perseverance never diminishes throughout our generations.
In the Mennonite church, we used to sing, “Blessed be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love.” As I observe my mother throughout these waning years of her life, those family ties keep us bound together.
This brutal disease of Alzheimer’s can never destroy those ties.
©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh