The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Tim and I went to visit Tim’s Mom at the home where she lives in Bedford, Virginia and where she finds good care. It was a great, celebratory day, having just been to Tim’s sister’s wedding and reception. My other sister-in-law-and-spirit went with us to visit Mom. Amy lives near-by and often makes visits, making time to feed Mom a meal. We arrived at dinner time and Mom was in the dining room seated at table with three other home mates and three staff assistants. Tim, Amy, and I made a full table of ten! We knew that Mom would not “know” that her eldest daughter was married in a beautiful ceremony earlier that day so we talked about it, sharing with her and the gathered “community” at table. Amy slowly filled Mom’s fork and gave her mouthfuls in-between her animated talk that sometimes carries surprising connections. “What was she like when you were growing up?” Asked one of the staff members seated at table with us. “She was very sweet,” both Amy and Tim chimed in. “Did she cook and bake for you?” “She sewed amazingly,” said Amy. “She made these great muppets and she taught piano.” Mom turned her face to Amy with a look of wonder.
We slowly finished the meal with one of Mom’s home mates nibbling at a communion-like bread roll the entire meal time. Mom continued her “conversation” while Amy fed her the last of the peaches dessert. Tim had the idea of sitting Mom at the piano that was right next to our dining table. “Would you like to play piano Mom?” Tim asked. She continued her own conversation while we carefully guided her over to the piano, helped her to a seat on the piano bench and placed her fingers on the keys. Her fingers recognized the keys and traveled up and down the scale, sometimes pausing as if in memory of a note or chord. We broke out in applause.
Getting ready to leave our time of communion and concert, we all walked slowly away from the sanctuary of the dining room, a staff assistant taking Mom back to her room as we said our good-byes. Mom continued her talk of children running, someone coming to ask her for money, “and I’m a woman so I must know…” Her parting words as she walked away to her room. Yes, Mom, after a life filled with children, mission and ministry in South Korea, teaching at a women’s seminary, sewing muppets and teaching students how to use muppets in Children’s church ministry, playing beautiful piano and organ pieces, and now living simply with Alzheimer’s, you are a woman so you must know.