>Piece of Mind

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My mother has Alzheimer’s. She’s been on meds for over five years and has been at an assisted living home which specializes in memory loss for almost two years. At first her mind actually seemed better, possibly because her meds were managed by the nurses there and she was actually taking them regularly. And because her world became smaller. More manageable. The people at Ridgeland Pointe seem to really care about her. Which gives me much peace of mind.

I visit Mom about once a month (she’s 200 miles away) and of course I can see the gradual decline. My husband went with me to see her on Thanksgiving Day. First time he’d seen her since my brother’s funeral, February 1. So the decline was much more noticeable to him. It’s not just her memory that’s being destroyed by this awful disease. It’s how she functions in the present, as well. Even when we’re having a good time, like in this photo taken at Starbucks on Thanksgiving afternoon, there’s a fog moving in, covering her mind over. Making it hard for her to see out and for us to see in.

So, yesterday when I met up with some friends at the Brooks Museum of Art for the Pissarro show, I was really more anxious to see the exhibit of art work done by some of the participants at the Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis. The exhibit was called Piece of Mind. You can read the Commercial Appeal article about it here. And see some of the placards explaining the exhibit and some of the photos I took of the exhibit on Friday here in my blog. Amazing work.

Art therapist, Karen Peacock, helped them with their work. My friend (another Goddaughter, actually) Julie Stanek was with us Friday. She teaches art at Rossville School and is working on her Masters at the Memphis College of Art. In fact, she’s working on a project dealing with art therapy right now.

Of course it made me wish my mother could participate in something like this. She’s got lots of talent, but hasn’t painted since college. I’m going to send info about the program to her assisted living facility director, in hopes that they can find an art therapist to work with their residents. Helping them get in touch with parts of themselves that are slipping away. Giving them an outlet for their creativity.

It’s not that I don’t have “peace of mind” about Mom’s care where she is. It’s a wonderful place. It’s just that this exhibit made me want more for her. All the years that she was too busy being a full time mom, school teacher, and later small business owner with my dad, she set aside her own creative impulses to take care her children and later to support my dad in his dream of running an athletic retail business and organizing community running events. (They owned Bill Johnson’s Phidippides Sports in Jackson, Mississippi from 1982-1997. Dad also ran many marathons, including Boston and New York quite a few times, while he was in his 60s.)

So now I’m thinking maybe it’s Mom’s turn. I hope she’ll have a chance to paint.

My post today will be short, so you can take time to enjoy reading about “Piece of Mind” and enjoying the drawings and paintings. If you live in Memphis, I hope you can find time to go by the exhibit.

The Pissarro isn’t bad, either, if you like that sort of thing…. world class impressionism by one of its masters, that is….

So, here are photos I took of the placards explaining the exhibit. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO SEE IT FULL SIZE.

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