My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She lives in an assisted living residence and is quite content there. In fact, so much so, that it’s hard to get her to leave her ‘known’ environment. When we do go out, she generally doesn’t like to be gone for too long…maybe four or five hours maximum.
Additionally, while in theory, taking Mom to a movie or other form of entertainment seems like a great idea to offer some diversity, the disease has created a situation where she doesn’t seem to have the attention span for it.
So, with Mother’s Day rolling around, I was struggling to find something I could ‘give’ to Mom to honor her on Mother’s special day. As a daughter of the depression, Mom hates to have people spend money for flowers for her; and in her late eighties, she doesn’t really like new clothes, jewelry or knickknacks for her room. She likes the same clothes she’s been wearing for years, has never been much for wearing jewelry, and doesn’t really pay too much attention to ‘stuff’ in her environment.
We talked about it and I’d throw out gift ideas and things we could do, but none of them were striking a chord…that is until I asked her if she’d like to go to Disneyland. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Disneyland. I haven’t been there in a long time.” She’s right. The last time she’d been there was when my husband and I took her about seven years ago.
I asked her if she’d like to go to Disneyland for the day and then reminded her of some of her favorite rides. She seemed kind of excited and said she’d like to go. I knew it would be a short day at the amusement park, but as I age, a short day was fine with me.
Mom normally uses a walker, but I rented her a wheelchair and we were off for our first adventure…The Tiki Room. Once the animatronic birds began to sing their staccato chorus: “In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” Mom was singing along and clapping her hands. After that, we rode a number of rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, and yes, the Indiana Jones Adventure.
When Mom had been at Disneyland eight years earlier with my husband and I, we’d all taken our maiden voyage on the Indiana Jones ride. Mom has never been a fan of roller coasters, but she really enjoyed that jaunt, laughing the whole time. Fast-forward eight years, and she wasn’t quite as enamored.
After we got off the ride, I asked her if she liked it. “It wasn’t too bad, but I don’t think I’ll go on it again.” She did like the fact that she was ‘driving’ the jeep conveyance, and joked we’d all be killed.
We had lunch, then went over the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. We rode the Monorail, she drove one of the little Autopia cars (while I pressed the gas pedal), and then we went on the Disney Railroad that circles the whole park. We’d go to get on a ride and she’d say, “I’ve never been on this ride before,” even though she’d ridden them many times before.
We stopped for an ice cream and then headed over to It’s A Small World. We got in line, and suddenly, Mom was ready to go…right about at five hours. So, we got out of line and made our way back to the car and headed toward home.
We’d both had a great time – actually, I had a fabulous time. It was cool because everything was new to her.
For about a week or so, she could readily remember having gone to Disneyland and some of our adventures. Now when I ask her, sometimes she remembers and sometimes she doesn’t. But one thing for sure…I’ll never forget. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration for both of us.