"Oh, sweetie, have you seen my flowers lately?"
"Well, I don't know, Mom. Which ones?"
"Oh, honey, it's these white ones that you brought me the other day. They're absolutely gorgeous. I've got them sitting between the ... um, the little purple ones I have and then the big plant with the ... the dark leaves. But these blooms are just so pretty, I've been sitting here looking at them all morning while I drank my coffee. They're ... Easter luckies, I think."
This was the first call of the morning. We had already covered the normal opening topics. What day is it? Does she have a person (caregiver) coming today? Is there anything specific I need her to try to accomplish today? (There rarely is.) Oh, and Jake (the cat) says to tell me _______ (some variation of hi, he's hungry or he wants to go outside).
And now we were to my favorite part of the first call routine: the daily flower report. This is when Mom's inner joy finally bubbles up and overflows the worries and confusion that constantly cloud the mind of an Alzheimer's patient. Never mind that she cannot remember the names of the flowers and plants she enjoys so much. Or that it was actually a pair of sweet ladies from the church who brought the Easter lilies earlier in the week and I haven't even seen them yet.
Of course, it isn't always even the flowers she reports on, although that seems to be the most common topic. Sometimes she launches into a colorful description of the previous night's sunset, or the wonderful spring weather outside her back windows, or a card she has just gotten (or just discovered anew) from a neighbor, or a letter from one of my sisters. The topic isn't really important at all; the daily flower report is all about the simple things in her life that bring her happiness.
Raising three kids alone, my mother did an amazing job of teaching us all the life lessons she could pass along, including a love of life and the Lord that I sometimes found unfathomable. As I grew into adulthood, I continued to learn lessons from this woman who had given so much of herself for her family through the years. As her Alzheimer's began to progress over the past several years and I began to take on more of a responsibility over Mom's care, I discovered there were even more lessons to be learned, many of which (loving patience, for example) I am still struggling to apply in my role as a father.
But the simple routine of our morning flower report is one of my favorite lessons of late. I'm learning once again that it's good to slow down and focus on the beauty in life, in spite of the problems and adversities around me. And that the small details aren't always as important as we think they are. And that sharing the joys in your life with someone you love makes that joy grow even more.
And I am looking forward to Sunday morning, when we'll go to pick Mom up and take her to church for Easter services. And we'll finally get to see Mom's beautiful "Easter luckies." Or whatever their name may be this morning.
This post is an entry in the group writing project What I Learned From.... This month's topic is "adversity." To read more participating posts or to find out more about this project, hop on over to Middle Zone Musings for all the details.