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"Shepherd Moons"



Mother by Christmas tree
Christmas 1994

Holidays were not easy times. Maybe I tried too hard the first year. I wanted so much for it to be a good Christmas for Mama, but all the preparations I was doing made her nervous. I did slow down enough to involve her once, and that first Christmas I was with her, she seemed to enjoy spreading icing on cookies, though I did have to guide her back to the cookies or she would have spread it all over the wax paper.

Although she did seem to enjoy the tree at times, at other times she seemed impatient for it to be taken down, and one day soon after Christmas, she demanded that it be done immediately.

The next Christmas, I just did a small tabletop tree, and that seemed to work better, except by then she was at the point where she hardly noticed anything. When I took her to see the tree, she would touch everything else on the table but the tree, and say "It's pretty."

Both Christmases we had the family get-together at my sister's house on Christmas Day. I invited the family to drop in at different times for finger foods on Christmas Eve, since there were some who couldn't make it on Christmas Day. My mother seemed much more calm when fewer people were there at once.



Mother with puppy
Fourth of July 1995

Any change in the routine usually brought resistance, and this made any holiday a difficult time. On the Fourth of July, my mother didn't want to go out to the backyard at my sister's for the family cookout. Finally, we persuaded her to, telling her that everyone was there because they loved her and wanted to be with her. She ate, but not very well, and she wasn't happy.

Then a niece brought a puppy and put it in Mama's lap. The rest of the day she was smiling and content, very happy to just sit and hold the puppy.

After that, at family gatherings, if there was a pet around, it was in my mother's lap.




April 1995

My mother's 79th birthday was special. There was no party, no family dinner. Still, she must have sensed something was going on, because she wasn't in a good mood early that day. I baked a cake and wrapped her present. Then I asked her to come to the table in the kitchen. She came, and she smiled when she saw the cake and the present. She even blew out the candles on the cake. She opened my present then. It wasn't much, but it seemed to change the mood of the day; she was happy the rest of the day. We took a walk, and we were still sitting on the bench in the garden when my sister got home from work and brought her present, which my mother opened right there in the garden. It was a simple way to celebrate a birthday, but very special.



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