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SEND IN MILLIE!
2 July 2013
My friend, Susie, whose mother died of Alzheimers several years ago (she had been Gilbert's sister) recommended a book to me. It's called "Seasons, touching memories from Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter." It's designed to be an interactive book for memory-impaired adults. It's published by Shadowbox Press, which publishes books for Alzheimers and Dementia patients. They have 8 different books on such topics as dogs,flowers, fun and games, etc.
The books contain beautiful full page color photos with a little text about the picture. In "Seasons," for example, this is a sample 2-page spread:
In addition to pages like this, there are conversation starters for each page. For this one, for example, they list:
Do you like springtime?
My mother's memory impairment is not severe enough yet that I would sit down with this book and go through the pictures and ask her those questions, but I am using it as a primer for me to give me ideas of the kinds of things to ask her about, given that the memory classes we have attended show that anythinking exercises your brain. It is my intent to bring my digital recorder with me and to start recording our conversations.
The other day, I started talking about my memories of my first day at school, when my mother took me to the kindergarten room and handed me over to Sister Mary St. Patrice. I remember being dressed in a red plaid dress and I remember Sister commenting on my long curls. Then I asked my mother if she remembered her first day at school. She immediately said "Oh, Bev, that was nearly a hundred years ago. I can't remember back that far."
I persisted and pointed out that MY first day at school was over 50 years ago and I still had a very strong memory of it. All of a sudden she said that she did remember that she had to walk home from school by herself and how scared she was that first day (I have heard the "walking home 3 miles by myself" story several times, but this one was completely different, talking about how she felt having to walk 3 miles alone, and the route that she took, climbing over fences and going across fields, to avoid the road. It really was 3 miles. I always mentally questioned this when she told the story before, but when we went to visit the ranch on which the family lived and then drove into town to her school, I clocked it on the speedometer, and yes it was three miles!)
I started asking her questions about her school -- did they sit at desks or tables (tables), who did she sit with (her "boyfriend," whose name I've forgotten, which reminds me to be sure to record this next time!).
I asked her what her favorite subject was and she said math. Not surprising, given that everything she has done in life has involved numbers. She also said she loved sports (boy -- I am so unlike her!!!) and I asked her what sports she liked to play. She told me that she loved playing softball and that she was always the pitcher. THIS was something I had never heard before.
Apparently she was a "jockette" in the school because she said that whenever the team wasn't doing well, when she was sitting on the bench, the crowd would chant "Send in Millie!"
She was also quite good, apparently in basketball.
I am excited about using this book to start other discussions which get her to use her brain and which tell me more about her than I knew before. I have a scrapbook I found which has pictures of her when she was a young girl of about high school age and I hope to go through those pictures with her, labeling the pictures she can remember with who is in them and recording her memories of what was going on when the photos were taken.
Maybe after she is gone, they will have more meaning to her
grandchildren than just a bunch of grainy pictures of strangers
PHOTO OF THE DAY
There are several pictures like this -- my mother is on the left --
I'd love it if you'd leave a comment!
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