|Click to read Mom's note. Photo by Jeff Norris|
Every time I make one of Mom's signature recipes, I am proud and sad. It always reminds me of the end of an era, expect that it is not quite the end because Mom is still here. When I went to get the recipe out of my recipe box, it was hard for me. Almost all of the recipes in the box are handwritten by Mom, given to me at my wedding shower 13 years ago. Mom has not been able to write for a long time now and I have not seen the smooth, beautiful curves of her cursive in years. When I read her letter to me on the inside of the box and the instructions for the recipes, I realize that I have not heard her say a full sentence in at least eight months. She has not been able to make any recipes for over a year. It is hard for me to know what she used to be like, and I feel like that is not my mother anymore. Not that she is not longer Mom, but that I barely remember what she used to be like. Which is strange, because she only started her journey with really visible dementia about six years ago. I feel bad that I do not really remember her as she was before.
As I saw my beautiful niece feed Mom small bites of the cake, I thought of how my son and my younger nieces and nephew may not really remember Mom as she was before. In fact, some of them have never tasted Mom's famous cake made by her hands. While they love her and like helping care for her, I still feel sad that they did not also get to experience her as cooking up a storm, knitting, laughing, and helping take care of them when they were sick.
I loved making the cake for Dad because I could make sure a bit of Mom as she was before was still there even while we enjoy having Mom there as she is now. It was kind of a way to bridge the two times in her life together for both Mom and Dad.
|Me and Dad with Mom's cake|
It is a hard transition, loosing someone in this way and seeing at special times in our lives how one day they may not be there at all. It is all the little things, like a cake, that make you realize how things have changed and how different they will be in the future. It is a weird combination of sadness from what you have lost, but also happiness to still have them in your life, and joy that you can carry on some of the things that are special to them which they can no longer do.