Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

A Halloween Surprise

For months, I’ve been working on my book on dementia and creativity. I’ve been so inspired by all the artistic people who know so many exciting ways to connect through creativity.
My mother’s sense of creativity and playfulness thrived in her last years. But there was one other part of her that was also in full force as well. See if you can identify with this Halloween tale that I first shared last year.

Do you remember trick or treating as a kid, racing down the street, dressed as a superhero or a princess or a witch, eager for treats? When I was growing up, I loved the freedom and surprise of that holiday and I continue to love the scintillating spookiness and dramatic dress of the holiday. Here’s a story about a Halloween gift I received in a memory care unit. Click here if you’d like to watch a video of the story or read on, if you prefer the written word. Either way, I hope you’ll “treat” yourself right this October 31.

Warmly,

Deborah

Halloween-Scary-Pumpkins-Wallpaper-Pictures-44234

My Caregiver’s Two-Letter Halloween Treat

On my mother’s last Halloween, her memory care unit held a party. Pam, the nurse, brought a basket brimming with hats, shawls, and scarves. Pam set a floppy white hat on Mom’s silvery curls and draped a lacy purple shawl over her shoulders. In her new adornments, Mom looked both puzzled and happy.

But during the “treat” portion of the Halloween celebration, which featured M & M’s and chocolate chip cookies, Mom’s smile was unambiguous. All her life, Mom had adored sweets and her Alzheimer’s had not dimmed her enjoyment.

Then small children paraded through the facility, dressed as princesses, witches, super heroes, and ghosts. Volunteers handed the residents wrapped tootsie rolls.

“For the children,” they said.

Mom smiled at the adorable kitty cats and pirates who chanted “Trick or treat,” in wispy voices, but she did not relinquish her hold on the sweets; she did not share her candy.

“Mom, would you like to give the children some of your candy?” I asked as my mother gripped her treasure.

“No,” she said.

No. The word floated through my mind and I gazed at Mom, my mouth open, my mind euphoric. Perhaps I should have been chagrined at her selfishness but instead I was thrilled that she had actually responded to my question. It was the closest we’d come to conversation in weeks. I laughed with delight. Mom laughed.

For that moment, we were two women, laughing at ourselves, laughing at life, simply laughing. For me, it was a most wondrous and unexpected treat.

halloween-toronto_00419844

*****

Please share one of your unexpected treats.

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

Unwrapping a Halloween Surprise

Do you remember trick or treating as a kid, racing down the street, dressed as a superhero or a princess or a witch, eager for treats? When I was growing up, I loved the freedom and surprise of that holiday and I continue to love the scintillating spookiness and dramatic dress of the holiday. Here’s a story about a Halloween gift I received in a memory care unit. Click here if you’d like to watch a video of the story or read on, if you prefer the written word. Either way, I hope you’ll “treat” yourself right this October 31.

Warmly,

Deborah

Halloween-Scary-Pumpkins-Wallpaper-Pictures-44234

My Caregiver’s Two-Letter Halloween Treat

On my mother’s last Halloween, her memory care unit held a party. Pam, the nurse, brought a basket brimming with hats, shawls, and scarves. Pam set a floppy white hat on Mom’s silvery curls and draped a lacy purple shawl over her shoulders. In her new adornments, Mom looked both puzzled and happy.

But during the “treat” portion of the Halloween celebration, which featured M & M’s and chocolate chip cookies, Mom’s smile was unambiguous. All her life, Mom had adored sweets and her Alzheimer’s had not dimmed her enjoyment.

Then small children paraded through the facility, dressed as princesses, witches, super heroes, and ghosts. Volunteers handed the residents wrapped tootsie rolls.

“For the children,” they said.

Mom smiled at the adorable kitty cats and pirates who chanted “Trick or treat,” in wispy voices, but she did not relinquish her hold on the sweets; she did not share her candy.

“Mom, would you like to give the children some of your candy?” I asked as my mother gripped her treasure.

“No,” she said.

No. The word floated through my mind and I gazed at Mom, my mouth open, my mind euphoric. Perhaps I should have been chagrined at her selfishness but instead I was thrilled that she had actually responded to my question. It was the closest we’d come to conversation in weeks. I laughed with delight. Mom laughed.

For that moment, we were two women, laughing at ourselves, laughing at life, simply laughing. For me, it was a most wondrous and unexpected treat.

halloween-toronto_00419844

*****

Please share one of your unexpected treats.

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

Four Ways to Acknowledge Loss: Seeing What’s Left in the Empty House

The scary house is gone. My grandson Robert, age two-and-a-half, stares forlornly at the ordinary-looking yard, unable to quite take in the transformation. halloween-cemetery

For the three weeks leading up to Halloween, this lawn was one of Robert’s favorite haunting places. Our neighbor created a spooky graveyard, complete with a turning black-robed ghoul that twisted its sinister head to glare right at you, a skeleton that popped up from behind a tombstone, a gargoyle with evil red eyes that crouched menacingly on the porch roof, a wicked looking fence, a tower with a secret compartment that housed a pulsing corpse, and a blue-eyed ghost that floated mysteriously in the background. The first night Robert saw this spectacle, he held tight to his grandfather’s hand and stared. He didn’t want to get too close and he didn’t want to leave; he watched from a safe distance and noticed everything.hand holding in shadow

Even in the daylight, Robert didn’t want to get too close. But he was captivated by all the scary activity and he loved sitting across the street from the house, waiting for a car to drive past so the “up and down” man behind the tombstone would thrust upwards and surprise us. Every day that I picked him up from school, he asked to go to the scary house. This normally racing, spinning, bouncing boy would then sit still and we  discussed the gargoyle, the ghoul, the crow, the pumpkin, and more.

But today, the day after Halloween, the yard is mere grass. Robert holds my hand and we talk about all the creatures that were there, just yesterday. He notices the indentation the tower made in the grass and stands in that spot. He is sentinel-still and solemn, trying to understand this great and sudden loss. Then he points, excited. “The ghost.” he says. The ghost is still hovering on the screened-in back porch. The ghost is Robert’s favorite and we are both very glad to see him. When we finally have to go, he waves goodbye to the ghost, content that at least something is left.ghost

As we walk home, I think about some of my own “scary houses,” things that both intrigued and frightened me. My mother’s Alzheimer’s was a terrifying mansion.

I remember visiting the Alzheimer’s Association and having the social worker show my father and me a picture of the brain with advanced dementia. After I returned home, I wrote about my feelings, saying, “ I look around my living room and imagine a man walking in and silently removing the sofas. No comfortable way to sit down. Another man comes in and takes the coffee table. No place to set down a teacup. One person removes the pictures and lamps, another hauls out the books. I imagine the room stripped down to its original emptiness.

“My mother is going to lose everything,” I say aloud, hearing my voice echo in the imaginary emptiness  …

Then I remember walking into my house before I bought it, and falling in love with the emptiness, the scarred wooden floors, the wide-open space, and the plain cream-colored walls. Even without any of the comfort and familiarity of furniture, the rooms had their own beauty.empty house

I close my eyes and imagine that beauty. I pray I will have the courage to discover who my mother is, day by day, and to love her as her new emptiness unfolds.”

Robert knows just how to take in his loss: stand still, take your time, remember everything you’ve lost and then appreciate what is still there.

As for my mother, even though she’s passed away, she never “gave up the ghost.” She’s still here with me.

It Just Takes One Word to Make a Conversation: An Unexpected Halloween Treat

On my mother’s last Halloween, her memory care unit held a party. Pam, the nurse, brought a basket brimming with hats, shawls, and scarves. Pam set a floppy white hat on Mom’s silvery curls and draped a lacy purple shawl over her shoulders.  In her new adornments, Mom looked both puzzled and happy.

But during the “treat” portion of the Halloween celebration, which featured M&M’s and chocolate chip cookies, Mom’s smile was unambiguous.  All her life, Mom had adored sweets and her Alzheimer’s had not dimmed her enjoyment.

Then small children paraded through the facility, dressed as princesses, witches, super heroes, and ghosts. Volunteers handed the residents wrapped tootsie rolls.halloween

“For the children,” they said.

Mom smiled at the adorable kitty cats and pirates who chanted “Trick or treat,” in wispy voices, but she did not relinquish her hold on the sweets; she did not share her candy.

“Mom, would you like to give the children some of your candy?” I asked as my mother gripped her treasure.

“No,” she said.

No. The word floated through my mind and I gazed at Mom, my mouth open, my mind euphoric. Perhaps I should have been chagrined at her selfishness but instead I was thrilled that she had actually responded to my question. It was the closest we’d come to conversation in weeks. I laughed with delight. Mom laughed.

For that moment, we were two women, simply laughing. For me, it was a most wondrous and unexpected treat.

tootsie roll

               

 

                                   Q 4 U:       

Please share one of your unexpected treats.