She would’ve made it sound as if she was creating a masterpiece. According to the two others in the kitchen, it was merely spreading cream-cheese on tortillas. Enchiladas are a big deal to this precious grandmother. Every stroke of the knife seemed to be a deliberate thought-out, slightly life-altering change. As she placed a cream-cheese covered tortilla in front of me so I could do my part, she painstakingly showed me the rip in the bread and proceeded to explain which way I needed to roll the tortilla to “hide” the rip. This was big stuff, Young’un.
I eyed the four packs of tortillas on the counter where her daughter – my friend- stood working and smiled to myself. This elderly Treasure had told me earlier that morning she thought she needed more tortillas because she couldn’t find any others. This was just one of those many times I knew her daughter had protected her from spending money on something not needed.
Dementia isn’t easy. As a guest in the homey farmhouse, it’s easy to see the care my friend takes in providing for her Parents. According to the grandmother in front of me, her house magically cleaned itself, her refrigerator mysteriously made the out-of-date food disappear, and life’s good. I know better, I know how much my friend strives to make her mother think things are like they’ve always been. Dementia isn’t easy.
As I sat at the table I observed old hands beautifully, yet painstakingly, doing a task that once upon a time was incredibly simple. Now though, she stops mid-stroke and whispers, “Is this right?” I’ve only known my friend’s parents over a year, but they quickly fortified themselves in my heart. Hearing the confusion is heart wrenching.
“Looks gorgeous, Lovely. You didn’t miss an inch!” I wanted to say. But I knew adding words to her thoughts would just make it worse. So I sat still but acted busy while she debated whether she could move on. She smiles at me, chuckles and mutters, “Oh well.”
After hours of preparing freezable enchiladas, listening to my friend read to her parents, and discussing a myriad of things as a group, I was overwhelmed with the gift God had given me. I was blessed not only by hearing snippets of wisdom from older generations. I’d seen a daughter who had done over and beyond in hopes of blessing parents who rarely comprehend what their children do for them.
As we walked out of the farmhouse, the precious grandmother kissed my cheek and said, “You’re like a daughter or great-grandchild to me. I love you. Have a good night.” I chuckled inwardly as I contemplated how she made me either 60 or 20 but nothing in between. As I returned the love, I quipped, “Hey! I get to spend even more time with this lady,” pointing to her daughter, “she’s pretty awesome.”
“Yes, yes she is.”
I turned my back as tears pricked my eyes. She knew. She knew she had a treasure of a daughter. Dementia had toyed with much of her memory, but she still knew her daughter loved her. I was struck with the revelation of how much little things like a parent’s affirmation probably felt like gold rather than routine.
Clinging to the little things… That is the preciously worthwhile price of Honoring your parents.