ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR HOBBIES
“As I sorted through Mom’s Granny Squares I noticed something odd,” says my sister Diane. She has volunteered to see what she can do with the three trash bags full of Granny Squares that Mom crocheted last month. “Some of the ‘squares’…well, they’re not really square.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, wishing I had inherited even a little of the needlework talent that all went Diane’s way in our generation.
“With a crocheted Granny Square, each side needs to have the same number of stitches, and the same for each corner. That’s what makes it square. Look, 1, 2, 3…,” Diane leans over me and begins to count stitches on a red square to illustrate, as though I can see what she sees. “See here? Mom has added stitches. See on this side? Extra stitches again. It’s not a square.”
Mom crochets from a Granny square pattern she memorized years ago. How long has she crocheted Granny Squares from memory? Twenty years? Thirty? Longer?
“Out of three trash bags of squares, Emma and I really had to hunt for enough square ones to use in her quilt.” Diane continues. “I was going to send the others to Project Linus. But now…well, now I think they may yet to be good enough.”
“And that’s because…?” I say, still in need of clarity.
“In order to connect the squares, they all have to be symmetrical. They have to be perfect. That way they line up and fit together as a quilt.”
“Ok,” I say as my mind jumps from the square to its meaning. This ‘square’ means that Mom’s memory of the Granny Square pattern is gone.
“How many are like this?” I ask.
“One trash bag full,” Diane replies.
“I’ll keep them. I think they’re funky and interesting,” I say. “One thing is for sure – Mom put a lot more effort into on any one of these than she ever needed to put in to a symmetrical perfect square. Look at them. Look at the ingenuity.”
“What will you do with them?” asks Diane.
“I’ll think of something.”
To me Mom’s “squares” have become evidence. Evidence of the memories that Alzheimer’s has taken.
Is your Alzheimer’s Loved One creating “other-than-perfect” efforts? Burnt toast? Unclean ‘fresh’ laundry? Are you open to see their creations for what they truly are – the best effort of someone with a disease that is destroying their brain and taking their memories? Try on this perspective and see if it increases your compassion for those living with Alzheimer’s.