I didn’t know I was shaking hands with an angel when I met Caroline (aka Big Bird; pictured above with Mom), on October 31, 2011, my late grandmother’s birthday, and the day after I arrived back at Mom’s place to live with and care for her full time.
Caroline knocked at the door at 13:00 precisely. I soon learned it was her habit to be punctual. Never early, never late. Always on the stroke of the appointed hour. Initially, she came to us on Monday and Wednesday afternoons; someone else came on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and yet a third person on Fridays; all of them from 13:00 to 18:00. The rest was up to me.
Big Bird and I connected from the first minute of the first day, just as she had bonded with Mom immediately when she had begun working with her six weeks before my return. They made a somewhat comical pair: tall, lithe, 33-year-old Caroline, and short, stocky 83-year-old Mom. Their 50-year age difference made no difference at all. They loved each other from the get-go.
When an angel walks into your life, you do everything you can to keep her there. Over the next several months Caroline and I fought to have her spend more time with Mom and me. Thank God we won that battle! By the end of January, 2012, Caroline was with us from 09:00 to 18:00 five days a week. We were so blessed. Caroline accompanied Mom through breakfasts, shower times, walks, trips to the grocery store, visits to the bathroom, clothes shopping, flower arranging, snow shoveling, birdwatching, leaf raking, gardening, watering, fire lighting, lunches, laundry hanging and whatever else was on the agenda with grace, compassion and the utmost care. The did everything together, and laughed and giggled their way through life’s ups and downs like a couple of schoolgirls, despite the hardships and challenges of living with Alzheimer’s disease. Of course there were difficult times–many–and we all cried separately and together on many occasions as well. I was/am profoundly grateful for all of it.
The three of us formed an amazing care partner team. We tackled chills and spills; we celebrated small victories. None of us could have done it without the other two. Our triad was and still is a testament to feminine strength and wisdom. January 12 is Big Bird’s birthday. Here’s to her with a rogues’ gallery featuring Mom and her during various adventures — I know it will bring a smile to her face and perhaps a tear to her eye.
I love you Big Bird! My brain may one day forget all you did for Mom and me, but my heart will always remember. Happy Big Bird Day XOX Punkie