Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BUSY (02/02/17)
TITLE: Touch of Love
By Holly Westefeld
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
being too busy with homework. I do have some, but it could have
waited. Truth is, there is only so much of seeing Grandma that I
can take, so different from my good memories. She rarely gets my
name right, often thinking Mom is her sister, and I am Mom.
Since the homework can wait, I scroll through my news feed. One
link leads to another, and I find myself browsing through a craft
site when the word "alzheimer's" jumps off the page at me. It is
a pattern for an activity mat. Its soothing colors and variety
of textures are supposed to both stimulate and calm people as
Alzheimer's progresses. Now I can't wait for Mom to get home.
I hear the garage door, and bound downstairs with my laptop. She
is wiping her eyes with a tissue as she stumbles in to the living
room and sinks on to the sofa. "Tough visit, Mom?"
She looks up, apparently startled to see me. "Oh, Sarah, I
thought you would still be upstairs working on homework. ...
Yes, a very rough visit. Not only did she not know who I am, but
she kept pulling at her hair, sometimes even pulling some out!"
I slide the laptop toward her. "Look what I found. Perhaps
something like this would help."
She peruses the page, then turns to me with a glimmer of
excitement in her eyes. "It's worth a try... We could make it
with fabric from some of her favorite clothes."
"That would be perfect!"
We head for the bedroom Grandma occupied until just a few weeks
ago, when Mom agonizingly admitted that we could no longer
provide the care she needs. Neither of us had been in since we
gathered the things she would need to take with her. We both
reach for the tissue box on the night stand when we see her old,
floppy stuffed cat, Bootsy, on the bed. She wasn't allowed to
have stuffed animals unless they were machine washable, due to
sanitation concerns. "What if we could make a machine washable
Mom's face lit up. "That's an awesome idea!"
Homework and dinner forgotten, we dash off to the craft store.
In addition to washable stuffing, we find a bell and heart-shaped
pet tag for the collar, and a chime like they put in baby toys
that we agree will be perfect in the tail.
We sketch out our ideas over pizza, and I finish up the homework
before trying to sleep with kitty patterns whirling through my
We select and cut out panels of fabric each evening, and I
engrave "Bootsy" on one side of the pet tag, and "Ruth Larsen" on
the other. Saturday, after an early breakfast, we get busy
sewing and stuffing. After lunch, we head for the nursing home.
The nurses and staff all say Bootsy is adorable, but we hold our
breath as we enter Grandma's room. She is sitting in a chair,
wringing a blanket in her lap.
"Hi, Grandma." She glances at me with no obvious recognition.
"We brought you a friend, Grandma." I place the floppy, stuffed
cat in her lap.
She looks down, and extends a tentative hand. Feeling the faux
fur from her old jacket, she strokes down the length of the back.
"Bootsy. You brought me Bootsy! Thank you, young lady!"
"You're welcome, Grandma."
Mom sits on her other side. "Mother, let me show you some
special things about this Bootsy." Gently, she takes Grandma's
hand and helps her slide it in to a kangaroo pocket we made as a
hand/arm warmer on the cat's tummy from a cozy fleece shirt.
Grandma smiled. Mom guided her hands to feel the black velvet
collar, felt ears, and pink satin nose. Grandma discovered the
velour tail and chime on her own.
"What lovely music. It sounds like the chime I used to have on
the back porch."
She continued to explore, finding the white islet legs and feet,
pink satin paw pads, gold dotted swiss shoulders, and frown
corduroy haunches. The joy in her eyes reflected from Bootsy's
gold sequin eyes. "Annie, Sarah, thank you so much for bringing
Bootsy to me. I have really missed her."
"You're welcome," we chime in unison.
The silences are no longer strained as we sit companionably,
watching Grandma caress her old friend with love.
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