“The long goodbye” is a term used when a loved one has Alzheimer’s. The goodbye begins when they start to fade away and lose their memory and ends when their body succumbs to the disease and they pass away. I am currently in the middle of this long goodbye with my mother, Rosalie. She was diagnosed last year with Alzheimer’s, but I knew something was wrong well before she was officially diagnosed.
Rosalie, age two, with her older brother, Louis.
My mother was known for her baking. She always had homemade cookies ready to share with anyone who entered her home. She was especially known for her Italian fig cookies, and would bake them throughout the year. A couple of years ago, she called me to ask if I would pick up ingredients to make the fig cookies for a gathering. I brought the ingredients over and left her to make the cookies. When I returned, she was throwing the entire batch in the garbage! I asked what was wrong, and she replied they didn’t taste right and was going to make them again. I decided to stay with her as she attempted the recipe a second time. I watched as she stood there, confused and unsure of how to prepare something she had been making since she was a little girl.
Rosalie at age twenty-one.
Loving someone with Alzheimer’s is emotional and there are milestones with the disease which make it difficult. For example, forgetting that a spouse has already died and not remembering they have children. The cherished memories that my entire foundation was built on, because of my mother, are now unfamiliar to her. That is sad.
Age 18 and excited to have joined the U.S. Air Force.
I visit my mother every Sunday afternoon in the memory care unit where she lives. We have lunch together and chat. Sometimes she knows who I am and sometimes she thinks I look like someone she once knew. I know we are to honor our parents; whether they remember who we are or not. We are taught to continue to care for our parents because it is the right thing to do. My mother is happy and feels safe where she is, but it is increasingly more difficult to leave her at the end of our visits, knowing that next time she may not remember me at all. It is a comfort, however, that I am creating new cherished memories for myself while spending time with her.
Rosalie, age thirty, ready for a night out on the town.
On Mother’s Day, I reflected on my mother and the legacy she has left me, my children, and grandchildren. We have photographs, recipes, and memories to remind us of her once she is gone.
Recently, Wren & Willow had the privilege of meeting the Executive Director of Washington State's Alzheimer’s Association to discuss the work they do. It was especially meaningful to me now that this disease has become such an important part of my life. For those of you also touched by this disease, please know you are not alone with your questions. In the video below, I express my own concerns in hopes of gaining information about Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, some of your questions will be answered as well.
For more information about the Walk to End Alzheimer's visit https://www.alz.org or click here and search "Wren & Willow" to join our team! Funds raised through the walk will support local education and programming for those facing memory loss, their loved ones, and their care partners. Funds also go to support Association Research efforts. If you or someone you know needs help, please call their 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
The History of Mother's Day
We celebrate mothers on the second Sunday of May because of Anna Jarvis, a woman from West Virginia in the 1900s who loved and admired her own mother. Although Jarvis organized the first celebration in 1908, it wasn't until 1914 that she convinced President Woodrow Wilson through a letter writing campaign to make it an official holiday.
5 C. Sifted Flour 4 Eggs 3 tsp. Baking Powder 1 tsp. Baking Soda 1 1/2 C. Sugar 1 1/2 C. Shortening 1 tsp. Vanilla 1/4 C. Milk 2 C. Chopped Figs 2 Boxes of Dates, chopped 1 Orange 1 tsp. Cinnamon 1 1/2 C. Honey
For the cookie dough, mix together the flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, shortening, vanilla, and milk. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, allow to chill in the refrigerator while fig filling is constructed. For the fig filling, place figs, dates, cinnamon, honey, and the juice of the orange in a small pot. Allow to simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. After dough has chilled, roll out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out cookies and fill with 1 tsp. of filling. Fold the dough over to contain the filling inside of the cookies. Repeat until all cookie dough and filling is used. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet and allow to bake for 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Found in our cookbook, One-Hundred Eats by Wren & Willow
This month featured team member is Luke Knauss. Luke joined our team 5 years ago as a Superintendent and now he is our Operations Manager. At the end of a long day, he goes homes to work on his 10-acre farm. Fortunately, he has help from the amazing woman he married, Callie. In the spirit of remembering mothers, we thought we would highlight Callie, a mother of seven children. We are not sure how she has the energy to do all she does. In addition to raising them, she also homeschools, and somehow finds the time to bake the most amazing breads and sweets! We are so happy to have Luke and Callie as part of our Wren & Willow family.
To learn more about Luke, click here.
May is a month of celebrating mothers! If you have a special woman in your life who is a mother (even if that special person is you), we have the perfect giveaway. This "treat yourself" basket is filled with luxurious items that mothers normally do not have the time or energy to put together for themselves!
This giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to Suzanne G. for winning this giveaway! Subscribe to our newsletter to be updated on future giveaways.
Photos by: Aleksander Akinshev