A very teary Christmas party

It’s been a week since the Christmas party at the Alz center. So I’m not teary anymore. I wonder if I’ve put off writing a post about it for fear I’d go back to that melancholy place.

The party was a day after a difficult experience at work, and my reaction to that bad experience had been rage on the day it happened, and sadness the next day. During a conversation with a work friend on Friday morning, I unexpectedly started to cry. Mom’s party was just a few hours later, so I arrived already feeling a little raw.

Mom was sitting in a circle in the program area and the Elvis impersonator had just started his show. Mom was looking a little tired, but she was also very affectionate. My heart was very open to her on this day, and I draped my arm around her shoulder and sat as closely as I could. I rested my head on her shoulder, and she rested her head on mine. These tender moments were doing a number on me – I wasn’t feeling particularly sad about her status, necessarily, but just felt emotionally overwhelmed – partly because it was such a pleasant surprise for her to be huggy and kissy and telling me repeatedly, “I love you, honey.”

And then Elvis started singing Annie’s Song. That melody gets me every time. I’ve actually been humming it this morning. As he sang, and I sang along, I noticed my support-group friend across the room, dancing with his wife. She had gone to stay with a daughter in Florida for seven weeks, but fell there and had to come back to Columbus, and to the Alz center. I was so proud of him when he had moved her to the center several months ago and worried when I didn’t see her anymore – until the staff said she had moved in with a daughter. (Later at the party, he told me, ‘She’ll be here for good now.’) The song, my friend dancing, holding hands with Mom and singing in her ear – it all got to me a little but I was able to keep the tears from actually streaming down my face. It even makes me feel sad about the loss of John Denver when I hear that song. So that wasn’t helping.

Elvis carried on with Christmas songs, and volunteers dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus made the rounds to hand out gifts and take pictures with residents and family members. It’s always hard to get Mom to look at a camera these days. Eventually Mom got restless and we walked around a little bit. We paused to have a brief dance during a fast song. I carried around her gift – a brown teddy bear. I sensed Mom was ready for a break, so I led her to a couch and coaxed her to sit down. By instinct, she reclined. I rested the teddy bear against her belly, and she immediately closed her eyes – probably trying to shut out the noise and the crowd.

Resting after the Christmas party - just as she did last year before it was over.

Resting after the Christmas party – just as she did last year before it was over.

I was glad to get to the party this year (last year a work meeting delayed me until it was essentially over) but I did have to return to work to finish writing a story. I think the earlier tears actually helped me focus at this point – being able to work out some emotions saved me from stewing, saving me from myself.

9 comments so far

  1. Gemma McLuckie on

    I’m so weepy this year. Was writing a letter and was inserting an old photo of my aunt. I started telling a friend about how much fun mom had with Irene. She suffered from agoraphobia but when she was left a widow with four of 10 kids still at home she went out to be a lunch lady. I couldn’t control my emotions. Even now I’m tearing up. Sometimes we just have to cry.

  2. David on

    The holidays do seem to bring out the emotions in us–both good and bad. I think it’s important and certainly okay to acknowledge them. You are a wonderful daughter, a caring colleague, and just sweet. So of course you feel things!! Thanks for the honest post.

  3. Laura on

    What a wonderful remedy to have Mom so affectionate toward you – the best Christmas gift ever! I love that you got her a teddy bear 🙂

  4. momsbrain on

    Gemma, I’m sorry you’re having a weepy year. But you are very right: Sometimes there is no cure as satisfying as a good cry. I had forgotten that after work last Friday, Patrick and I saw a movie, and I really lost it there, finally able to finish up my day of crying. (The movie was ‘Enough Said,’ and there’s a scene when parents are sending their daughter off to college. It’s a killer!)

  5. momsbrain on

    Hi, David-Thank you for the compliments! I don’t feel so sweet these days – tending to let my cynical side emerge more than I’d like. I definitely do let my emotional flag fly and it manifests in all sorts of ways!

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Laura-I agree, it was a gift to have such a great visit with Mom. I was unclear about something, though – the teddy bear wasn’t from me, but was the gift the center gave to Mom. The staff had something for everyone, mostly in the form of stuffed animals. I commend them for doing that – I imagine they see those items scattered all over the place within hours after the party!

  7. Jenniferjayhawk on

    Hi Emily, It is funny what weird things like a song can trigger sadness. I’m hoping 2014 will be a better year. My husband and I took my Mom out to lunch last week. There was a brief moment when she looked at me, said I was a monster and to get away from her. Five minutes later she was saying how nice it was to see me.

  8. Jenniferjayhawk on

    My brother, who was diagnosed with ALS took his life the day after Christmas. We are all trying to wrap our brain around his decision. I cannot believe that our Mom is alive and my brother Mark is gone.

  9. momsbrain on

    Jennifer, I am so sorry about your brother. I imagine that diagnosis is completely devastating. But this outcome is so stunning. And your mom at lunch – I know it still stings me when Mom says something unpleasant to me. She called me an idiot yesterday. I’m glad your mom snapped out of that bad mood quickly. I’ve said it before – your family has had much more than your share of sadness and loss. I hope you are able to help each other heal from the loss of your brother. I, too, hope 2014 is a better year, for all of us.

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