Before Alzheimer’s: Easter Memories

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It was a gorgeous Easter day here in Ohio. Nothing but sunshine and blue skies! I made my mom’s spaghetti sauce and meatballs this morning and let everything simmer on the stove all day before assembling a big pan of lasagna for our holiday dinner.

The smell of that wonderful sauce gently bubbling away and having lasagna for dinner brought back happy memories of Easters past. When my daughter was growing up, most of our egg hunts were done indoors due to the typically cold, wet Midwest weather – but we never missed one! And as with all of our holidays Mom was up early and making all kinds of magic in the kitchen. No one could put together a scrumptious meal like she could.

The photo above is one of my favorites; her and Jess at Easter – I’m guessing 1989. So funny to see her with white hair; she was only 52, a few years older than I am now.

My Favorite Easter Cape

Of course, the real throwback years were the late 1960s and early 1970s. When I was a little girl, wearing a special Easter dress and hat was the norm. It was always exciting to get dressed up for church that morning and slip on those shiny patent leather shoes! For some reason, one of the most vivid childhood memories I have is of the year my mom made me a cape – she was a fantastic seamstress and made a lot of my clothes back then.

I just remember the little dogwood tree exploding with pink blossoms, as my dad took pictures of us standing in front of it. I loved that cape so much! It was robin’s egg blue, and had those giant frog fasteners on the front. I think I may have even worn white gloves that year! Boy, how things have changed.

Sweet Easter Memories

Back in those days, Easter was chock full of tradition. Every year, we would go to Cummings Candy Shop on Main Street where Mom would buy huge chunks of milk chocolate. I doubt I was tall enough to see over the counter, but I was the perfect size for gazing through the glass display cases at all the mouthwatering treats!

Cummings Candy Shop

Mom made two varieties of eggs, peanut butter and fruit & nut. I remember watching her carefully form the sweet white concoction for the fruit & nut version into perfectly shaped eggs. Perfectly shaped! I wanted so badly to be able to do that, but mine looked like big oval blobs of white stuff!

Even years later when I made them as an adult, they didn’t come close to Mom’s beautiful confections! Like a paintbrush to an artist’s canvas, she would use a butter knife to cover them in the delectable melted chocolate from Cummings, and the finished eggs were flawless – she even managed to get the swirly designs just right!

Then, of course, there was the beautifully braided shiny Easter bread and Italian taralles. It was the special time when I got my own cup of hot tea to dunk the taralles in – yum!!

Good Friday: Remembering Grandma

My paternal grandmother died on Good Friday when I was around six-years-old. I’m not sure if I actually remember the priest coming to the door or if I’ve created that imagery in my mind based on Mom’s telling of the day’s events. She was very close to Grandma Napoletan, having lived right next door and learning everything she knew about Italian cooking and baking from her.

Grandma, me, Mom – circa 1966

For as long as I can remember, she told the Good Friday story as Easter drew near; I think that must have been a devastating day for her.

My mom was only 29 when she lost her own mother just a few months before I was born. Now having lost her, I can’t even wrap my head around saying goodbye to such an important person at that age, especially while being pregnant.

My Guardian Angel

MarilynOdd, but I remember when Mom died just ten days before Christmas, one of the first things I thought of was my grandma’s passing all those years ago. I wondered if I would be telling the story of Christmas 2012 as the holidays approached from here ever after.

One thing is for certain; holidays certainly do stir up memories. I’m still not at a point where I can remember much about my mom before Alzheimer’s took over, and I pray that changes with time. Every now and then, though, I get a clear vision of Mom as she was when I was a child, and it makes me smile…  My sweet Guardian Angel, always and forever. I love you, Mom. <3

 

Call to Action: Global Alzheimer’s Resolution

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As the third most deadly disease in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is taking a huge toll on us. But it is not just a U.S. crisis, it’s a global crisis. And only by working together can we find a treatment or a cure.

Reps. Smith, Fattah, Waters, Burgess and Meadows have come together to propose the Global Alzheimer’s resolution, which would create a much-needed global action plan and fund for fighting Alzheimer’s.

Take action TODAY and tell your representatives to co-sponsor this critical legislation, H. Res. 489 – there’s no time to waste. It’ll take no more than a few minutes of your time, and your voice could make all the difference in the world.

Click here -> http://actions.usagainstalzheimers.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13792

And, please share with your friends and family.

Alzheimer’s: Accepting a New Reality

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I read a lot about Alzheimer’s and dementia. A lot. Still, every now and then I come across something that grabs hold of me and won’t let go, because it reads exactly – and I mean exactly – like my own experience. Despite the fact that I tell people all the time, “we’re in this together” and “what you’re feeling is normal,” I sometimes forget those things apply to me, too!

Tonight, I read one of the most poignant essays I’ve ever seen discussing a topic that’s very close to my heart. In fact, it’s the subject of my contribution (Learning Acceptance) to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living With Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.

In his piece for Maria Shriver’s blog, Dr. Daniel C. Potts writes about reaching a point of acceptance – realizing that your loved one as you once knew them is gone, but their core remains very much intact. Always. Even dementia can’t strip them of their essence. It simply cannot.  Continue reading

…What Life Throws At Us…

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I’d like to thank my friends at The Ostrich Group way over yonder, across the pond, for having me as a guest on their blog this week. This piece looks at what happens when life doesn’t unfold quite the way we planned. As they say, sometimes bad things happen to good people… so, what then?

Every day, good people find themselves in various situations that they didn’t ask for and certainly don’t want. However, it’s how we handle those situations that makes all the difference in the world. I hope you’ll enjoy Twists, Turns, and Transformations.