A woman holds a plate of heart shaped cookies while an older female is eating one and walking away

Remembering Kindness and Gratitude

Last updated: February 2023

It has been an interesting experiment living with my mom in my adulthood. I think it's different than having my adult son live with us. Is it, though? I'll have to ask. He will be out soon. Her, not so much.

I have noticed my mom is increasingly having trouble making decisions. She is also having trouble being grateful and saying "thank you."

These may be more complaints than observations. Since we have been living together for the last 9 years since dad died, I have gotten to see her up close and personal.

Mitigating her speech

My mom mitigates her speech a lot. She is southern, after all. Why use one word, like "yes" or "no," when you can say, "Why, that sounds like it might be a good thing if anyone else wants to," 15 times.

It's hard to get a straight answer out of her. I have a lot on my plate. Does she want the cookies? I just want an answer. "Well, I do like them. I don't have anymore. I still have others. I don't really need them."

Yes or no, mom.

A cookie debacle

The last time I got those cookies, she wasn't that impressed. They were Belgian chocolate chip cookies. I think she thought they were just chocolate chips. She didn't notice any difference. Did she thank me for getting them in the first place? They weren't her favorite.

I got her an eggplant parmesan sandwich from our favorite grocery store, and I got the rest of us sushi. She hates sushi. I tell her it's not all raw. She has eaten frog legs and chicken gizzards, but she draws the line at shrimp, seaweed, and rice?

They didn't have her favorite Philly Cheesesteak. She kept saying it was ok, but she really likes the Philly cheesesteak. I explained so many times why I didn't get it. They didn't have it.

You could just say thank you

Did I need to apologize? She said no! She likes it! "You know, mom," I said a little teasingly, "You could just say thank you. That would be the appropriate response." Then she laughed and thanked me.

I do this with my kids. We all tend to mitigate compliments or favors. Someone says or does something nice for us, and we say, "You shouldn't have!" or "This old thing?!" It leaves the person feeling bad for doing good!

So, when one of them would go about deflecting, I would say, sort of exaggerated, "I believe the appropriate response is... Thank you?" They would laugh and be grateful instead. It has been a good lesson.

When my mama says her hair looks terrible, I say it looks cute. When I bring her Italian ice, she likes the brownie bits and not the ice part as much. When I get her not-as-favorite sandwich or cookies - the appropriate response is "thank you."

Gratitude and kindness go a long way

It's not too late for her to be grateful and reminded to be the kind person she has always been, even if she forgets. It's hard to be depressed or frustrated when you are grateful. It's a way to give and not just take.

I could write about the big moments, and I do, but these daily minutia things can get me like a drip, drip. I am grateful I still have her. I have heard stories that others have it so much worse.

Alzheimer's disease can change people. It's just these little things - when I try and can't win - that gets to me. I miss the woman I remember and worry about what may come.

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