Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding the Keepers: The Drive

This is the second part of Sue Monroe's series, Finding the Keepers. See Part 1 on the previous blog post dated August 31st.

Two weeks later, I asked Mom if she would like to go for a ride in my van. She had not been out since the previous July, because it was too difficult to get her in the van, and it seemed to upset her.

On this sunny April morning she hopped right in, buckled her own seat belt before Dad or I could help, then waited impatiently for poky me to get in and drive.

At the first stop sign we came to, I planned to turn right. A car was coming from my left, but far enough away, I probably could have made it. I waited because I needed to pick up enough speed to get up the hill on the interstate overpass, before the other car reached me. I had precious cargo.

From beside me I heard “GO, GO.”

Mom had leaned forward to see past me, judged the distance of the oncoming car, and decided I had plenty of time to pull out.

Good thing Dad had his seat belt on in the back seat. He would have fallen out, he was laughing so hard, because she was telling me how to drive.

It was the first time I had heard him laugh around her in the year she had been in the home. Of course, he told that story to everyone.

Mom “transferred up” (as the staff at the home called it) two months later.

I believe I have so many good memories from her last couple of years because I decided to look for them.

That is the first step in finding the keepers. Make up your mind to see things in a different way.

Instead of only seeing the bad things, look for something good in anything. For example, a little mannerism from the past that might trigger a good memory.

The more good you look for, the more good you will find. The stories I told in these posts were of Mom reacting to things she always loved – walking, bird watching, driving all over the countryside.

Seeing your loved one react to things they once loved can give you many new memories.

After Mom lost her drivers license, I drove one-handed most of the time. My other hand was tucked firmly in hers. I miss that more than I would have imagined.

Find something that touches you as much as it does them. You will have enough good memories to keep for a lifetime.

Sue Monroe, the author of the two part series, Finding the Keepers, was caregiver to her mother, Emily Monroe, for six years. After Emily's death in 2004, Sue continued to care for her father until I, her sister, took over his care in September 2006.

Sue now lives in Missouri and enjoys traveling. You can see Sue's work at Red Bubble.

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