Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On being thankful

There are few bright spots in the story that is Alzheimer's. About the only one I can point to is the way trying to deal with an impossible situation has drawn me closer to my siblings. My sisters and I got together on a recent weekend to try to figure out ways to help my parents, who steadfastly refuse to be helped. Any assistance we give them has to be surreptitious, and (compounding the problem) if we all arrive at their home at the same time, my father immediately becomes suspicious, certain we are there to bundle him off to the "home." So keep him calm on this occasion, my sisters and I announced that we were getting together for a quilting weekend. One of us would work on a quilt in the front of the house, while the two others hid in a back bedroom going through bills and making sure they were paid. We rotated in and out on the quilting, so that my parents always saw one of us working. Here I am, looking like I know what I'm doing:

Of course, we didn't start and finish the quilts while we were there, but each of us had a one in one stage or another of completion. I hadn't done any quilting for years, but this little parent/quilt-project (and one like it this summer) started me up again. That is a photo at the top of my finished quilt, out in the garden with my tool trug and squash. It is a simple, traditional four-square pattern, with homespun fabrics.

And then, just before it was time to go, we got together for pictures. Here's a picture of my sisters with theirs:

And a sweet photo of Mom and Dad:

My sisters and I live in different places, with different lives, goals, priorities, politics, and religions. But this thing we're dealing with has brought us back together and strengthened our bonds, and I guess that's a little tidbit of joy in the middle of the nightmare.

So what am I thankful for this year? All those little tidbits, the bright spots that make life bearable.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


  1. Amen to that. Your parents are adorable. :) You have a lovely family. I know of the frustration of Alzheimer's as my closest aunt, my only family on my Dad's side, has been in a home for a year now in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She is as physically well as a 40 year old, but her short-term memory is almost non-existent. It is a strange beast. You are very lucky to have your sisters...the quilting was a neat idea, and the finished product is so bright and cheerful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  2. My heart goes out to you because my Mom is in the early stages also. She has done a little better since starting on Aircept.We worry about them and yet understand why they would want to be together. It is so hard to give up ones freedom and depend upon someone else. My Mom was always a go getter so it is hard for her to realize her limits.I am an only child and I find myself trying to check on everything she does also. But I am thankful for the medication that helps her to have clearer thinking days.Yours and your sisters quilts are lovely. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks for your comments, Nancy and Lona. And I'm glad to hear that your mother has started the Aricept. I hope she has many fine days left.

    Lona, if you ever need to talk about it, just leave me a message on blotanical. I have no good advice to offer, but I will have been there.

  4. Been there, done that, and lived to tell about it! I think I shared that already with you--but my heart goes out to ya. It's not an easy situation to deal with when your parents become that age. I know so well what you are feeling. But you all did a grand job of helping without them knowing--so clever.

    I love your quilt!!! The colors are beautiful and warm. I don't think you have an untalented side. Everything you show us is unique and artistic. Your sisters have that talent too. Did you inherit it from your parents?

    Happy Thanksgiving to you! I'm grateful for my family and those like yourself who make my life a rich place to be. Hugs to ya!

  5. This is really something, such a rough time. Sounds like you and your sisters are handling the situation. Your quilt is the perfect color for this time of year, your sister's is awesome too. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Susan.

  6. I am glad I got to your blog today to read how you and your sisters were able to help your parents without upsetting them. It's a blessing that you and your sisters are drawing closer together through this. Alzheimer is no fun. I know of several families dealing with it.

    My grandmother has it, and I have neglected going to see her. I know my parents, aunts and uncles do a lot for her, and she is in a facility that is a large house with a family atmosphere. I just let so much time go by, and now, she wouldn't know me. Still, I keep saying I am going to go see her. Oh, I'm sorry for carrying on.

    I enjoyed all your photos! Happy Thanksgiving!


  7. Anna, Tina, and Sue--

    Thank you for your comments--both about the quilts and the Alzheimer's.

  8. I Googled "rustic trellis" and got to your blog today: 14 months after your wrote your entry.
    I don't know if you'll ever see this, but I wanted to know that I read and was touched by this post. My mom and her two brothers were similarly drawn together when their parents' mental and physical health began to fail. You write about it with grace. I hope that you are well.


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