Sorting our mail that rarest of treasures slides to the top: a handwritten envelope in familiar script. My eyes dart to the return address for a clue as to the card’s contents. As part of Youth Group our seventeen year-old Lewis wrote his grandmother.
Sitting at the kitchen table Mom slowly opens the envelope. She adjusts her glasses and stumbles over her words. Dr. Acosta tells us that Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia degrade the neural pathways so that messages get crossed, lost, and disconnected. A year ago when mom could still remember that she taught school for almost forty years, her creeping inabilities depressed her. Today she smiles and slides her card across the table. I begin reading her the note from her grandson.
Dear Granny Due
Thank you for being there every day. Every day you are just so happy for the smallest things. It makes me so grateful to find joy in the smallest things. I love you so much and am so happy to get to spend time with you. I love you so much and am praying for you. Love Lewis Purdue.
Mom looks out beyond our kitchen for some other place. I wait- maybe some neural pathway will again open and her keen wit will re-emerge for a brief and beautiful moment. On the edge of tears she haltingly asks “Who is Lewis?” We are learning to minimize her memory struggles, so I reach for my phone and find a picture of Lewis. Mom instantly lights up recognizing her grandson: who picks her up each day from adult day care, fixes her lemonade, and walks ever so slowly around the block with her. She smiles gazing at his photo and asks me to read the card again. Mom runs her fingers along the sides of the phone picture frame as if she held Lewis’ hand. Somewhere mom’s soul whispers a now unspoken “how precious”.
I stand to shield us from my coming tears. I kiss the top of her soft grey hair. I step outside. I weep for all that is lost inside my mother. I rejoice for what remains. I pray that I learn to take joy in the smallest of things.