“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things”.~ Frank A. Clark
I had a taste of the little things this past week. There are days with my Mom that are very sad and it is tough to be with her as this disease takes over and robs her of her memories.
Yet each day we have with her is a gift and the present moment is all that matters.
It’s difficult at times to remember that because I know I’m guilty of this, I get caught up in wanting Mom to always be engaged, and her quality of life to be at its best. That’s not realistic with Alzheimer’s so it’s a constant learning experience to navigate each day. And it’s the little things that mean the most and get you through to the next moment.
I had one very challenging Sunday recently with Mom. It felt like there was very little I could to help her enjoy the day. It was just a day that Mom was inside herself, silent, and managed to blame herself for every little thing. She became fixated on the thought that she was doing something wrong and she wouldn’t let it go.
On Sunday’s, Mom and I are usually by ourselves since her aide, Joan has the day off. I have to admit that I tend to spoil her on Sundays mostly because I just want to! Mom is so cute to watch as she enjoys a favorite dessert or goodie. So I decided to give her one of her favorite treats, a milk shake which I make for her as a meal replacement more than a dessert.
As I was bringing the milk shake to Mom, her face lights up, her jaw starts to drop and she smiles that this is her treat. It is so wonderful to see her enjoy something she loves. Needless to say, the milkshake came and went and Mom quickly finished every delicious drop. While I thought I was brightening her day with this special treat and even though she drank the entire milkshake and seemed to be thrilled to have it, the opposite occurred. No sooner did the last drop of the shake come through the straw did her mood change and Mom quickly turned emotional. She began to badger herself because she believed she did something wrong and that she shouldn’t have had the drink at all. I felt horrible and helpless instantly.
And this badgering, I did something wrong emotional state is what stayed with Mom for I can’t tell you how long. It was so sad to watch and as you can imagine I felt an immense amount of guilt because I felt I caused her to spiral down this emotional road all because I gave her a milk shake in the first place! It took an immense amount of energy to get Mom to stop blaming herself and for me to let go of the guilt I was feeling at the time.
Needless to say, days like this happen and there really isn’t much we can do about them. Sadly, this is what comes with Alzheimer’s disease; senseless and emotional states that can grip Mom and cause her to withdraw and feel bad. And that is what is difficult to watch at times when these moments happen and all you want to do is take them away from her so she doesn’t have to experience this or feel bad. And to think something as simple as a milk shake can trigger such a state.
It was the little things that were left for me to turn to so I could help her to feel better. So in that moment, it meant that I sit with her and hold her hand. Let her cry and remind her that there’s nothing that she was doing wrong and find words to reassure her that everything will be okay.
It was the little things of acting goofy to distract her and to make her laugh. Yes, I jumped up and started to dance around the living room to get her thoughts on something light, upbeat and funny. Thankfully it worked!
And the same little things that helped Mom that Sunday afternoon gave me the reminder that it really is the little things that change everything in any given moment.
One small gesture.
A kind word
Holding a hand and squeezing it.
An open door
It all matters.
Even when we feel helpless and it seems like we don’t know what to do or that these horrible feelings will never go away.
It’s the little things that will change your focus
It’s the little things that can put a smile back on your face
It’s the little things that can give you peace of mind
It’s the little things that bring hope
It’s the little things that done over and over add up to the big things
And it’s the little things that are always sending the message you are enough
And it’s the little things that are the purest examples of love
And mostly, it’s the little things that take the fear, pain and heartbreak away.
So maybe the simplest thing to do is remember that lots and lots of little things bring great big pay offs in the long run.
It’s the little things that mean the most always.