"Mom, it's for cleaning lettuce. You put lettuce in the basket and wash it under the sink. Then you put it back in the bowl and press the knob on top. It spins out the water leaving you with clean dry lettuce." I give the knob a push and set the spinner spinning.
"You don't need to plug it in? Well how does that thing stop?" I pull the top off and stop the spinner. Mom shakes her head in amazement and walks over to another counter, a rag in her hand, and wipes away some imaginary mar. I remain at the sink rinsing the evening's dishes. Two seconds later she's back by my side staring at the salad spinner, "Well what the heck is that?" and the explanation begins again. Eventually, if we repeat it often enough, she'll remember or become comfortable with the spinner sitting on her kitchen counter. We have good days and bad ones. My mom is now a creature of habit. Everything has its place and change is feared. Thank God for what my family has been able to provide for her.
For years mom has worked at my brother's stained glass studio. Being idle is my mom's biggest fear. After my dad died she took up residence at at my brother's studio, cleaning new windows, running the till, joking with customers, and keeping the store organized. As the dementia began to creep in, her ability to first run the till, then to clean the windows slowly slipped away. The studio is now more elder care for her where she goes and wanders from room to room, a cleaning rag in her hand, looking for imaginary dirt, proud she has a job. The smiles continue to cross her face as she jokes with customers and tickles the heads of the little kids who come in at the hands of their parents. She still has her laugh and her pride.
I now am the one who takes her to work in the morning. She is still asking, "Do I go to work today? When's Bonnie coming to pick me up?" But lately she's also been saying, "Are you taking me?" She's putting us into her routine, becoming comfortable with our presence in her world.
LESSON SIX:Karma is real. All good deeds will eventually be rewarded