Just before Christmas about 15 years ago Mark and I visited my parents at their house on Horton Road. My mom had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around that time and we were talking about what Santa Claus should bring them and my dad said silverware. He said they had to pull out “the good stuff” because all of their everyday silverware was almost gone. He didn’t know where it was going but he didn’t seem to care very much either.
About a year later my dad found all of their missing silverware in a bag hidden in a high laundry room cupboard that they seldom used. He was so proud to find it and my mom didn’t remember hiding it. My dad didn’t make a big deal about it, he just understood.
I was laying in bed waiting for Mark to wake up earlier this week and I started thinking about my mom. When I was a little girl my best friend and neighbor Carol Pothoff invited me to attend her church at Laketon Bethel Reformed which was located in our neighborhood. My Mom told me I wasn’t allowed to attend Carol’s church because it wasn’t Catholic. She said it was against our Catholic religion to attend someone else’s church. It seemed strange to me at the time but I thought maybe I was too young to understand.
Today as I think about my mom’s answer, I realize it was so contradictory to her everyday actions because my mom was so loving and was such good friends with a lot of people that attended Laketon Bethel and other places of worship. My mom was faithful to God so by being obedient to her church teachings she thought she was being obedient to God even if it didn’t always make sense.
Last fall I received an email from my friend and classmate Ed Doctor about his mother Donna.
Sandi sent my mom copies of your blog last weekend. Mom was asked to sit in the “prayer chair” at church on Sunday so the congregation could support her in her prayers. You made her list girl! Pretty good when a Catholic girl makes it big in a Dutch church!
The church Donna attends is Laketon Bethel.
It’s amazing and comforting that in 50 years we have grown in acceptance to the point that a Catholic girl could be on the prayer list of a Dutch church based on love instead of rules. I know this would also make my mom very happy.
My dad was probably 80 years old when we were sitting in a McDonald’s and he told me with tears in his eyes that he doesn’t remember his mother ever telling him that she loved him. My dad knew that she did but she had to be strong and tough to raise her six sons and one daughter on her own after her husband died from an infection at a young age.
My parents loved each other but were never very affectionate in public. My dad’s true love and affection for my mom was very real and evident to me after my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was in awe of how much he loved and cared for her. He stepped up and started taking over daily routines that my mom used to do and he never complained and they laughed a lot together.
One of the daily routines that my dad took over for my mom was helping her get cleaned up and dressed in the morning. My dad was not into fashion so oftentimes we would have to send him back to his bedroom to put on a shirt that matched his pants. He would laugh and head back to his room to change his clothes. With that being said, he had to take charge of my mom’s clothing choices as well. Lucky for my mom she had quite a few matching outfits on hangars so it made it easier for my dad to pick out matching clothes.
At one point during the time that my dad cared for my mom she needed new slippers, so we bought some that looked like corduroy moccasins. She loved them because they were so warm and comfy. On Sunday mornings we usually met and sat with my parents at church. One Sunday I thought to myself, ‘I hope Mom doesn’t wear her slippers to church.’ When we got to church that morning, sure enough, my mom was wearing her slippers. I didn’t say a word to my dad because he was doing the best he could.
I am living a similar love story as my parents. Mark is definitely more skilled with helping me get ready for the day than my dad was with my mom, but I think the love is the same.
And luckily I still get to pick out my own clothes. And Mark’s, too.