Seasons

While Wayne and I were visiting with Mama today, a new resident was wheeled into the activity room and up to the table where we were sitting. I was busy chatting with Mama while spoon-feeding her some thickened water, so I didn’t pay much attention to the new lady.

At one point, she told us her name was Amy and asked us what Mama’s name was, “Muriel”, Wayne replied.”

“I was hoping to talk to her,” Amy said.

We explained that Mama doesn’t talk much these days. “She likes to listen to others talk, and likes to sing…well, she used to sing, but she still likes it when others sing.”

Amy nodded her head. Then she began singing softly.

At that moment, I was so sad that Mama wasn’t able to talk – she would have really enjoyed visiting with Amy.

I resumed giving Mama her water. We finished our visit and began our goodbyes.  I looked over at Amy, she was praying softly. What a wonderful lady, I thought to myself.finishing_well-in-life-almond

As I walked outside underneath the gloomy-gray, overcast skies of winter, I happened to notice a lovely almond tree in full bloom. How beautiful, I thought, here in the midst of winter is a spot of beauty.

I remembered that God used the almond branch to symbolize His watching over Jeremiah. I smiled as it occurred to me that God can bring a spot of beauty even in the midst of winter.

He didn’t suddenly change winter to spring, He simply made something beautiful blossom in the middle of it. He didn’t change Mama’s winter season of life, but He brought Amy to blossom in the middle of it.

We can all find a way to blossom in the midst of someone’s gloomy day.

And a little child shall lead them

I have just arrived home after attending the monthly ‘Birthday Party’ held for residents at the care home where my Mama lives.  It was wonderful! Loosely Strung, a Tehama County band faithfully visits each month to play the old songs (including “Happy Birthday”) to help the celebration.

February is Mama’s birthday month and I had been looking forward to enjoying it with her. The residents seem to really take pleasure in the music, cake and ice cream. They engage at whatever level they can by clapping and singing along with old favorites.

Wayne and I try to attend as often as we’re able. We know that Mama loves music, and even though dementia has robbed her of the ability to sing or express her emotions, her eyes are still able to speak.finishing-well-in-life-cake

About half-way through the party, a young family joins the festivity. They have a small boy and a toddler. During one of the more lively songs, the little tot with curly black hair and a big smile, wiggles out of her Mama’s arms and onto the floor. To everyone’s delight, she toddles out to the center of the room and begins dancing and clapping to the music.

Up until that point, the majority of the crowd was simply enjoying the party. Those who  were able to were singing along and munching their cake and ice cream as well as keeping an eye on the tiny dancer. But then the little girl did an amazing thing.

She toddled over to one of the residents, smiled and reached her hand out to grab her walker. It was as if she put a nickel in the older lady. She suddenly came to life with a grin and began clapping to the music. The little toddler, moved on to the next one, again producing a happy response.

Everyone was watching closely now. It was almost as if there was a collective holding of breath waiting to see where she would go next. Each time she toddled up to someone, that person became more animated.

She eventually made it over to where Mama and I were sitting. She reached her hand out and touched the soft fur on one of Mama’s slipper. No reaction. Mama just looked at her. I was a bit disappointed, as I had hoped for a smile or glimmer of joy from Mama. Oh well, I thought, at least I know she was able to hear the music.

All too soon, the musicians played their last song and it was time for us to leave. When I looked over to Mama to tell her good bye and that I loved her, I noticed something – there were tears running down her cheek. She had noticed the little girl. She had reacted. Tears are the only way Mama has now of communicating with us. What a wonderful birthday celebration.

Drink up…habits worth brewing

My drinking habits have finally been vindicated! Coffee in the morning (it used to be all day, until I began to experience ‘wakefulness’ at night), and tea in the evening. My favorite blend is decaf Earl Grey and Chamomile with vanilla.

I just finished reading an article  about the health benefits of both coffee and chamomile tea. Yea!

Evefinishing-well-in-life-tean in the warm summer season, my husband and I enjoy our coffee and tea habit. There’s something relaxing about sharing the events of the day while sipping tasty tea from pretty cups with saucers.

When my Mama was just in the early stages of dementia, we used to have coffee in the afternoon as a treat. It became a regular habitl we would sip our coffee and sing songs. I always snuck some chocolate syrup in Daddy’s coffee because he needed to gain some weight and I added a bit of sugar-free creamer to Mama’s coffee since she didn’t.

I rejoiced to read the article, but thought that  a bit of Googling might be in order to see if there were any other studies available that would confirm what I had just read. It turns out that there is finishing-well-in-life-coffeequite a bit of information regarding these beverages.

More welcome news is that the coffee benefits come from both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

NPR reported on a study, published in the journal Circulation,

“The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits. As we’ve reported, previous research has pointed to a decreased risk of stroke. And, there’s some evidence that a coffee habit cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes, too.”

As for Chamomile tea, a study published in The Gerontologist  finds that drinking the tea can help older women live longer.

Another Chamomile tea study in ScienceDaily reports that New Evidence Supports Health Benefits
It states that drinking chamomile tea is associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help explain why the tea appears to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds, according to the researchers.

It summarizes the study by stating:
“For centuries, people who’ve felt sick or stressed have tried drinking chamomile tea as a medicinal cure-all. Now, researchers in England have found new evidence that the popular herbal tea may actually help relieve a wide range of health ailments, including colds and menstrual cramps.”

This is supported by yet another study by WebMd that says:

“German chamomile is used and studied the most. A German governmental organization (Commission E) has approved its use on the skin to reduce swelling and fight bacteria and as a tea or dietary supplement for stomach cramps. “finishing-well-in-life-tea2

So, the bottom line here is: If you, or those in your care enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea, it’s fine to include it as part of your daily habit. And, as the studies suggest, it can be part of a healthy lifestyle.