Apr 22, 2011

Walking Mom

I had many truths when it came to keeping my mom healthy, but one of my greatest missions was to see that she was strong enough to walk until the day she passed away...
By Barbara Pursley
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Even though Mom was in a nursing home, I was like one of the fixtures when it came to being there for her.

Some of the nurses loved my presence while others believed I made their job more difficult, but it never kept me from showing up.

Answers to Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

I loved walking my mom and we did it religiously. All I had to say was “let’s walk” and she would start smiling. And, I’m not talking about a little walk inside the building. No! I’m talking about out of the building, down and around two blocks dependent upon the weather.

I can remember it like yesterday. Walking hand in hand while I would sing “You are my Sunshine.” She would giggle and laugh and speak a little gibberish as though she was singing along with me. I cherish the moments of holding hands and embracing each other in a way we never had before.

Our walks were slow, but long. We took time to smell the roses. Mom loved flowers and we would stop to touch and feel every flower that was within reach.

There was so much to enjoy on our lovely nature walks. Not only did Mom want to observe flowers and foliage, but she would become enchanted when a butterfly would land on one of the beautiful flowers we were observing.

We made friends on our walks such as the golden retriever, Buddy, who could never get enough love and his sister Molly. It was like being at a petting zoo for Mom.

After about seven years, we traveled around one block instead of two. Mom was beginning to lose strength. I started having to help her stand up, but once she was up and I said, “let’s walk” she was smiling and knew the routine. Then when the ninth year came, she was too weak to walk and was confined to a wheel chair.

The wheel chair didn’t confine us one bit. I pushed and she did her usual giggle. I think she enjoyed the extra effort it took and it didn’t stop us from enjoying the beauty of nature and barking Buddy. I continued singing my favorite song, “You are my Sunshine” and loving her from head to toe. She spoke gibberish and I answered as though I knew exactly what she was saying. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.

In the tenth year, Mom was confined to a geri chair. I was very sad when that day arrived. I really believed I could keep her walking until the end. I forgot that I wasn’t in control of how long she would walk or live. So, I started taking Mom out of the nursing home and into the courtyard. Mom had really declined, but the nature of our togetherness was still warm and loving. We would sit under one of the big oak trees for shade and I would bathe Mom’s feet in a rich lotion for a soft massage and then paint her toenails.

She loved being pampered and I loved it even more.

In the eleventh year, Mom passed away. It was the saddest day of my life. I cherish all of the times we shared and I will miss her forever.

Barbara Pursley was born in Galveston, Texas and is the author of EMBRACING THE MOMENT. Barabara attended Santa Monica College, studied photography, and worked as a commercial photographer before returning to Texas to care for her mother. Barbara also taught journal writing to women in Texas rehabilitation facilities. She put her God inspired journal entries and photographs into book form in 2009.

Read More on the Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Diag­no­sis and Treat­ment for Mem­ory Prob­lems
The 36-Hour Day A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease

Original content Barbara Pursley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room