A Kitchen Window to the World…from an Alzheimer’s View

As I looked out my kitchen window this morning and glimpsed lilac and forsythia bushes with leaf buds, I was reminded of the kitchen window of my childhood in the farmhouse where I grew up. Mother also enjoyed gazing out a window while washing dishes and would tell about the one, during her youthful days, above their pantry sink. For years she bemoaned the fact that, in our farmhouse, she had only a wall to stare at.

So one day my dad hauled saw and other tools into the kitchen, bought a window with four panes, and installed it above our kitchen sink. It did brighten the large kitchen and helped make washing the dishes for six family members and hired man an easier task…for Mother, Sister and me.

 Window to the World

 This became Mother’s window to the world. It opened a view of the brook that ran between house and barn. Beyond the barn was a corn field, pasture and woodland. The scenery was ever changing, depending on the time of day and year.

 Glimpsing deer grazing in that pasture adjacent to the woodland, in the late afternoon, was an occasion of excitement for us children. This almost became a daily ritual, looking for the white tailed deer moving slowly across the pasture as they nibbled at the foliage.

 Windows in Alzheimer’s Years

 Even after she developed Alzheimer’s, Mother looked out the window of the house where she then lived and drifted back in time to the scene from her farmhouse kitchen, even though she was no longer there.

 It took me awhile to figure out what she was talking about when Mother told me she saw the cows coming to the barn or the deer near the woods when no animals were outside this kitchen window. Then I realized she was talking about the window of my childhood. So we both reminisced over a cup of tea, providing a happy occasion.

 My Kitchen Window

 Wherever my husband and I live, even though we have a dishwasher and I don’t spend so much time at the kitchen sink, I still want a window. I like to gaze at the woods around my present home, watch the birds flitting around, look at the trees budding in spring, changing color in autumn and covered with snow in winter.

 The window above the sink becomes the heritage of women who spend time in the kitchen. Mine encompasses memories of my childhood and of my mother who wanted her kitchen window to the world…even during her Alzheimer’s years.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Memories in Alzheimer’s World

We made quite an event of St. Patrick’s Day when I was growing up.  We didn’t have Irish family connections, except possibly way back in our genealogy.  But the hired man on our farm celebrated this holiday.

We children always checked to see if Dan had the little green bow on his work cap when he came in for breakfast that morning.  He was more like a member of our family, a grandfather figure for us children, even though he didn’t live at our home. 

He took his meals with us, and Mother prepared corned beef and cabbage for dinner, the large meal of the day on a farm.  If she didn’t have corned beef, she cooked a ham with potatoes, cabbage and carrots for St. Patrick’s Day.

When Mother was in the nursing home and someone mentioned they were having corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, she asked, “Did they make enough for Dan?”

Even though her memories were garbled, some glimmer of the past on our farm came through and was associated with that day.

Encourage your family member to elaborate on memories.  Write them down or record them so you will have them for your family history.  Also, they will remind you that even though someone has Alzheimer’s disease, some of those memories linger and can be shared.