Life is precious

Black and white photos of my mother in the 1960s and our hands

I was in New Jersey last month to visit my family. My dad asked me to come in early April because my mom’s health has been deteriorating. This is partly why I haven’t blogged in weeks or spent much time on Instagram. As some of you may know from reading previous posts (Alzheimer’s clothing – sewing patterns for women or My mom’s last sewing machine), my mother has dementia.

She taught me and my sisters how to use her sewing machine and made most of our clothes when we were young girls.

Finding photos

While I was there, my two younger sisters and I spent an afternoon going through boxes of photos and photo albums, looking for photos of my mom. They will be part of an eventual slide show for her funeral. I know that sounds rather morbid but it was better that we share this responsibility in advance rather than doing it at the last minute. We enjoyed going through the many photos and finding images that we hadn’t seen in decades or had never seen before.

I found this photo in a small box. My dad said it was taken before they married, sometime in the early 1960s.

Mom in a fur coat and gloves in the 1960s -

The box had a few other black-and-white photos that I had never seen before, like this one with her beehive hairdo.

Mom with beehive hairdo in the 1960s -

I’m not sure where this photo was taken but I like her style.

Mom in the 1960s -

I also discovered this grade school photo of me. There wasn’t a date on it but I think I was likely in second or third grade. I’m wearing a top my mom made.

My mom today

My mother is now in a wheelchair, living in a nursing home, and really can’t eat solid foods. As a result, she’s lost a significant amount of weight, which was hard to see. She still recognized me and actually responded when I asked her if she was tired. “Extremely” was her response. I’m really glad I was able to visit.

This is a photo of her hand in mine during a visit to her nursing home.

Mom's hand in mine -

My parents have been married for more than 50 years. They had never lived apart until my mom had to move into a nursing home about a year and a half ago when she began to have trouble walking and it was too difficult for my dad to care for her at home.

If your parents are still alive, take time to talk to them – especiallly while they can still respond to you and can remember events that occurred in the past. If you have any questions about their childhood or your own, ask them now. Life is precious and you never know what will happen.

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

12 thoughts on “Life is precious”

  1. Dear Chuleenan, My heart goes out to you. I helped my mom pass through the same phase of her life. She died from complications from dementia on Mother’s Day weekend 2016. I agree whole heartedly with your comments of seizing the moments your loved ones remember you and the days when visits are good. They become fewer and fewer along the journey, but they are there. I will share that months had gone by prior to my mother’s passing where not a sound coming from her lips made any sense and I was certain she did not recognize me, and then 3 days before she passed, I will never forget this, she found clarity and said out loud “I love you so much!”. those were the last 5 words I heard from her. Everyone in her corridor, the residents who could understand and the kind caregivers in the room, stopped, clasped hands and smiled. I will never forget it. And I believe she knows that and took that moment with her too when she left us. I will be praying for you and your family.

  2. Sending so much love to you, and wishing your entire family peace and comfort. <3 I've watched two grandparents suffer from Alzheimer's and the mix of emotions (mine) made coping with their diagnoses that much more challenging; it's such a cruel disease for all involved, and I'm very sorry that it has affected someone so close to you. (One small mercy for me was the extra distance between a child and their grandparents–I saw far less of the harrowing nature of Alzheimer's than their own children and spouses did.) I was always thankful for "good" days and moments, and I'm so glad that your mom knew you when you visited.

  3. What a beautiful, meaningful post. Thank you for sharing such lovely words and photographs of your dear mom. My sister and I recently found handmade cocktail dresses our Japanese grandmother made for herself when she was a singer in a Japanese bar during my mom’s childhood. Since she couldn’t afford to purchase dresses at a department store, she would spot one she liked and then design her own pattern to make it herself. Handmade fashion and your mom’s personal style is such a beautiful tribute to her creativity.

  4. I am so sorry that you are going through this, Chuleenan. It is one of the hardest things to deal with, having a parent with dementia. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. My heart goes out to you. My mother in law had dementia for a couple years before she died. Unfortunately, her husband of 62 years passed six months before her and the hardest part was when she kept asking for him. It is wonderful that you went to see here and you ad your sisters had that time together. It’s not morbid, it is important to be able to share your memories while you are not rushed and thinking of other things.

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