By Bruce Stambaugh
My mother gave me an early Mother’s Day present this year. I know. It’s supposed to work the other way around.
The gift presented itself in the evening of one of our incredible summer-like spring days we’ve had recently in rural Ohio. I had gone to have supper with Mom at the assisted living facility where she lives.
After the meal, I pushed Mom’s wheelchair down the hall towards her room. Since it was still nice outside, I asked Mom if she wanted to go out on the porch awhile. I pretty well knew her response would be positive.
We settled on the southwest corner of the wraparound porch. From there, we had a panoramic view of the broad, bucolic valley below. We could see far to the east, south and west. The evening sun was still strong, its breeze just a whisper.
Mom and Dad used to spend as much time together on the porch as they could. From their elevated position high on the hill, they had a lot to take in.
Together they enjoyed watching the progress of the construction of a covered bridge the county erected over a usually gentle stream. They could see Amish farmers mowing hay in the flat, fertile fields on either side of the creek.
They watched the traffic on both the county road that climbed the long hill into the little town of Walnut Creek and on the state route that bypassed both. They preferred the buggies plodding up the step grade to the rumbling trucks on the highway.
With Dad gone now, it was up to us family members and staff to encourage Mom to take advantage of evenings like this. Her Alzheimer’s disease prevented her from even initiating the idea. But if somebody else suggested it, she was all for it as long as the weather cooperated.
This fine evening was downright perfect. Besides the temperature, the earth vividly declared its beauty, much like the many landscapes Mom had painted over the years.
She no longer paints, but her appreciation for both nature and her own natural affinity for appealing colors remain. She still picks out her own clothes to wear each day, and receives many compliments on her color coordination.
Mom hasn’t lost her artistic eye, either. At first, she didn’t say much as she gazed over the vibrant scenery. Eventually, she began to point out the various flowering trees, all at their peek. And she did so in complete, spontaneous sentences, something her disease has greatly diminished in this lovely lady.
Long, comfortable silent spells punctuated our conversing. We listened to bluebirds warble their blissful songs. Cardinals called. Song sparrows sang echoing solos.
Mom asked me what those yellow things were far off in the distance. I asked her if she meant the objects with the silver, pointy tops. She said, “Yes,” as she pointed with her finger. I told her those were corncribs like Uncle Kenny used to have on his farm.
Soon a green four-door sedan, exactly like the car Mom and Dad had before we sold it recently, pulled from the parking lot below us. Mom watched the car travel all the way out the drive.
She turned toward me and instead of saying, “That looks like our car,” Mom surprised me with an even greater upbeat comment. “I wish I could still drive!” she said with a fantastic smile.
For me, Mom’s moment of recognition and effusive expression was an unexpected and unforgettable Mother’s Day gift.