While traveling this journey, there are those times when our expectations tend to exceed a realistic level, and of course that can only lead to disappointment. I’m learning, but it hasn’t been easy and I still slip up from time to time.

Even as recently as Thanksgiving 2010, I’ve created some extreme let downs by expecting too much.  2010:  Mom’s first Thanksgiving at Eason House, and I had great visions of having our traditional meal there. I baked pies ahead of time, prepared the sides, and shuttled everything to the house, where I would cook the turkey.

Oh, I had grandiose dreams of my mom having a wonderful day and even being able to help out in the kitchen.  We would have such a lovely meal, almost like old times.

Enter harsh reality.  It was one of the worst days mom had experienced since she’d been at Eason House.  Crying (sobbing), screaming, wanting to leave.  You name it.  By the time dinner was ready, my stomach was in absolute knots and I didn’t care if I never saw another  Thanksgiving dinner in my life.  That was really a turning point for us in terms of holidays; the realization that they would never be the same.  In fact, they would never even slightly resemble the old days, so we needed to work on some new traditions.  This past year, we did just that – no more overinflated expectations – new traditions for a new chapter in our lives.  Acceptance.

The past few days have threatened to yank me into the land of overly lofty expectations yet again, though on a lesser scale.

On Friday, I received an enthusiastic text from Eason House.  The girls were so excited; apparently mom was having a great day and was “talking up a storm.”  At one point she said, “That dog is mean,”  then a bit later she went to the fridge, pulled out a bowl of jello and said, “I want this.”   They couldn’t get over how clearly she was communicating.

But the coup de grâce was when they heard her say, “You know Ann.”  Well, if indeed that is what she said, that would be the first time she’s spoken my name in … well, in as long as I can remember.  I couldn’t believe it; I was so excited at the thought that I decided I’d go straight to the house after work.

Of course, by the time I got there, it was all over.  She was very tired, extremely restless, and lacking anything that even slightly resembled focus.  She wasn’t talking much at all.

Fortunately, I had been prepared for the worst.  As I drove out of downtown, I told myself to rein in my expectations.  Let’s face it, the odds of the visit going anything like what I had conjured up in my mind were slim to none.  Cautious optimism is one way to describe it; in a way, you hope for the best but prepare yourself for the worst.

That night, when it was all said and done, I left Eason House feeling disappointed and a little sad.  But for the most part, I was happy to know that she’d had those wonderful moments of clarity earlier in the day – even if I wasn’t there to share them with her…

Until next time…Carpe diem…