Keeping her warm as she slips away…

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” Leviticus 19:32

Aunt Aileen with her new blanket

She will soon be 90 and she is slipping away, day by day.  At the excellent Christian nursing home where she lives,  a caring staff of nurses, social workers, physical therapists, activity directors and CNA’s faithfully follow the above scriptural directive from Leviticus, which is painted on a wall in the lobby.  In spite of this loving and respectful care, there is a little less of her each time I visit.

I’m sure many of you have witnessed the same heartbreaking deterioration of a loved one.   Dementia is stealing her memory, bit by bit, and a variety of age-related ailments have destroyed her health.   Yet, she is still my Aunt Aileen, always delighted to see me, always pleased with her living arrangements, always pleased with the food.  “I’m eating like a pig!” she exclaims with a guilty grin.

Today, I brought her a micro fleece blanket which I had embroidered with her name.  I love Brother’s signature floral alphabet and my Duetta 4500D stitched it perfectly in 24 minutes.

I arrived at the conclusion of a gospel sing-along, as a pianist was playing a rousing rendition of “Are You Washed in the Blood. ”  Aunt Aileen was parked in the hall just outside the chapel/activity room door, close enough to see and hear all, but clearly not  a participant.  A  staunch Catholic,  she was slightly embarrassed to be caught drumming her fingers and humming along to that Southern Baptist music.

She was  covered with an institutional white flannel blanket, perfectly clean and serviceable.  But she immediately threw that off and had me wrap her in the new, brightly colored, personalized micro fleece.

There is nothing I can do to reverse or retard or halt my aunt’s decline.  But I can make her laugh, do her laundry and help keep her warm.   Bringing a throw is not much, but it is something.  I feel a little better for having made the effort, she feels a little warmer for having a new blanket, and for the short while that she recalls today’s visit, she will remember that her niece cared enough to make her something pretty and snuggly.  It might remind her that she is loved.

12 responses to “Keeping her warm as she slips away…

  1. What a loving example this is for us all. She is lucky to have those who love her around her, living out the love for her in deed and word.

  2. Sophia Patterson

    Your aunt is one of the lucky ones, to have a niece who is willingly to love and care for her. Also, I love your blog just as it is and thank you for sharing the site, Dresses for Africa. I struggle with what to do with the fabric in my stash that I no longer want to use and now I have a way to put it to good use:)

  3. I agree with Jeannie, you are such a loving example for us. Your aunt certainly looks happy and well cared for, especially with such a cute blanket.

  4. Janice, your Aunt looks so good, she doesn’t look like she is almost 90. You are doing such a good job taking care of her and I know she appreciates that. Thanks for sharing the picture of her, she looks so happy.

  5. Merry Gay Lape

    I too agree with Jeannie. You are a wonderful niece and she is so lucky to have you. You are an inspiration to us all!

  6. When my grandmother had alzheimer’s and was staying in a home, her laundry would get all mixed up with the other residents’. Many of her things were lost. I think it’s wonderful that you help in this small-but-large way, allowing your aunt to be surrounded by clothes and blankets that are familiar and her own.

  7. Wonderful to read about your sweet aunt. I am reminded that I embroidered a blanket/throw for my hubby’s grandmother when she turned 100. I mailed it to my MIL and it was to be given at the birthday party. A year later, I found it at my MIL’s house and asked why it had not been given to Grandmother. I was told that it was not something that she needed. I told her that if one person/staff member had commented and taken an extra few moments with Grandmother, then it was definitely needed. I was mad and hurt at the same time. We keep pretty things for Mother at her assisted living apt. The staff love to come in and see what has changed, etc. Our elderly family members need all the extra things that we can do for them. I wish my dad were still with us, so that I could dote on him. Beckie

  8. Thanks for all your sweet words. I wasn’t seeking praise or affirmation, just venting about the ravages of old age on loved ones. And I was feeling sad after my visit with her that day. Beckie, I couldn’t agree with you more about “need.” I think that providing anything for a loved one that draws positive attention from caregivers falls into the category of a need. I’m sorry you had that hurt and disappointment while poor Grandmother did without the extra attention you tried to generate for her. Betty uses her button machine to make book marks and all sorts of things for her elderly mother who, like yours, gets extra visits from curious staff. Your comment says it all, “Our elderly family members need all the extra things that we can do for them.”

  9. You know the saying in the bible (I too was raised catholic and I don’t know where the ‘address’ to this) that we come into heaven as a child?
    I like to think that as Alzheimer’s or dementia takes the mind and memories of our loved one, it’s God making us a child again, preparing them for heaven. I bet Aunt Aileen isn’t harboring any long ago resentments or people who let her down… all is forgotten and thus forgiven. She goes to heaven without all that baggage of the world. Inside she has and will carry the love. Long ago when my Nana was at about the same place as Aunt Aileen. my oldest daughter was only 18 months and by the time she was 2, Nana and her were the same mentally. They both clapped at sprinkles on their ice-cream and hummed happy tunes as they ate their favorite foods. Nana went home as a child, can you imagine the relief of letting go of all the bad and responsibly of caring for others. passing the torch to the next generation? I don’t know…?? My prayers are for you and your family

  10. Terri. this is such a comforting thought! And it makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing this. I am holding on to it.

  11. Your aunt looks great and quite happy. Her throw looks great with the decorative letters. I remember when I designed those letters for Brother many, many years ago. I have them on some Waverly bath towels and I recently estimated that I have has the towels for at least 19 years with the plain letters from one of the early Brother embroidery cards. When these letters came about a few years later I added them to the other end of the towels (crazy practicality I know). At any rate I have must have washed and dried those towels a few hundred times and the embroidery still looks great. Amazing.

  12. I really love these letters–to me it is the signature Brother alphabet. I didn’t know you designed them, June. Pretty as the floral letters are, the ability to stitch the capital without the flowers is a huge advantage. I once monogrammed a pair of his and hers towels, using their initials instead of “his” and “hers.” His, of course, had just plain block letters while hers had the floral design integrated, so it was clear at a glance whose towel was whose. Years ago, I purchased a pretty monogram collection of large floral letters, but there were no underlay stitches, just very wide zig zags. After laundering the towels, not only did the letters pucker, but the wide satin stitch separated, exposing the fabric. This never happens with the Brother alphabet. But it didn’t occur to me, as it did you, to embroider the other end of those long lived towels with my Brother alphabet. Hmmmm….I wonder if those towels are still in the back of the linen closet.

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