Last week we buried my mother-in-law. It was a surprisingly happy day as we rejoiced in the current bliss of her soul and the end of her earthly sufferings.
One of the happiest times occurred when the family gathered and we shared some of our memories of mom. As we did my son Will tried to get his out, but living with Williams Syndrome and zero emotional apprehension meant he only got about four words in before erupting in a doleful wail that, “Grandma died…” That was just fine.
What he wanted to talk about was his relationship with Grandma. Will was born the year Alzheimer’s invaded. In fact, some of our first clues about mom’s suffering surrounded her confusion at his birth and condition. And in that way, the two of them lived with their disabilities together.
2007 - Grandma and Grandpa and the kids
A year or so ago, when mom was rarely interacting with anyone, we showed up for a visit. Will did what he always did – marched straight over to Grandma’s hospital bed, took her hand, exploded in a massive smile and gently started to sing-song, “Hi, Grandma!” Like so many times before, she locked on. And to all of our surprise, mom smiled right back and started playing a little game with Will using her good hand like a slow motion pair of pliers. Will loved it. And he did it right back to her. It lasted a few minutes and then mom drifted off again.
Did I mention Will loved it?
He seemed to have this thing with mom where he was going to connect with her no matter what. He was not easily dissuaded and most of the time he met his goal. It was sweet. In those little exchanges, the real mom still came out. She loved children and in the only way she could, she still managed to love Will.