I've just returned to Arizona after spending a week in Alabama visiting friends and family. Prior to departure, I was very stressed about seeing my mom, who has vascular dementia and did not know me last time I was with her. After picking up my rental car, I stopped in for what I assumed would be a brief visit. She was lying in bed wide awake, and we chatted for the next two hours. I knew she recognized me as family, even though she said something that let me know she thought I was my older sister. That was fine with me; I felt so blessed that she knew I was hers.
The next day, she was in the community room waiting for lunch when I stopped in. She had me in stitches for the entire visit. I kept telling her I should be taking notes, and finally I realized I did have a scrap of paper and a pen in my backpack. I felt like the things she was saying, while disjointed, were advice that I could easily apply to my life. In response to one of my comments, she studied me for a minute, and then said, "You are an individual. My sterling silver, beautiful, blue-eyed daughter...with bugs in her hair." We both got a long laugh out of that.
I left Birmingham the next day to drive up to Huntsville where my brother lives. My sister came down from Louisville to be with us. We spent time roaming through Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment (http://www.lowemill.net/), the largest privately owned art facility in the U.S., purchasing new treasures and eating amazing food. Situated in an old textile mill with a number of buildings and 148 artist studios on the premises, there is a lot to do at the Mill.
After a few nights with friends and family in Huntsville, I was back in Birmingham for more sweet visits with my mom. She called me by name on my last day, which amazed me. She was lamenting the fact that I was leaving, and saying she forgot her children when they were gone. I assured her that whether she remembered us or not, we were always connected by our hearts. I also took the opportunity to thank her for the greatest gift she ever gave me -- always knowing me, seeing me, understanding what I was feeling and what I needed. She smiled and asked me how I got so sweet; I replied that I'd learned it all from her.
Take a moment to look at the unique beauty of your loved ones. Tell someone what they mean to you or thank them for something they taught you. It will simultaneously fill and lighten your heart.