The Purim Switcheroo

Adult daughter and senior mother outdoors

As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you; you will find comfort in Jerusalem.—ISAIAH 66:13 [JPS]

As with every year, Mom and Dad accompanied us to our synagogue Purim feast. I didn’t stop to think that bringing Mom might be problematic. How would her Alzheimer’s brain process the noise, the crowd, the difficulty in navigating the buffet?

Dad and I took turns sitting with Mom at our table. Friends stopped by to engage her in conversation and I was overwhelmed by their kindness; Mom was glowing. Everything was going so smoothly, I almost dropped my guard. Then as she was getting ready to leave, Mom casually grabbed the handbag that was hanging on the back of the neighboring chair.

“Hey, Mom,” I said, “that’s not your bag. Let’s put it back on the chair.”

“This is my bag!” she snapped.

I tried gently to remove the handbag from Mom’s shoulder, but she snatched it back. We tussled over it and I knew her anger would escalate if I could not diffuse it.

That’s when I noticed an empty cloth bag lying under the table. I’d often used a kind of “bait-and-switch” with my kids. Would that work with Mom?

“Here,” I said, reaching under the table, “take this one instead.”

Mom took the cloth bag while I surreptitiously removed the handbag from her shoulder. Suddenly, her anger was gone, and Dad expertly maneuvered her outside and into the waiting night.

Today's Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for teaching me how to parent my loved one in her times of need.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts