Her face scrunches up in a delightful little smile as she takes her first sip of the strawberry milkshake. She waits
just a second for the coolness to subside, then draws heavy on the straw again. Her eyes light up as she looks toward us, so very excited… experiencing the
second …first sip!
On a day when they bring her out hyped up and agitated, we aren’t sure if she will come around. The ravages of Alzheimer’s continue to take their toll, ten years after we first noticed something was wrong. The isolation of the pandemic, a broken hip, emergency surgery, and total lockdown, in a facility foreign to all of us, only exacerbates the overriding issues.
She wants to tell us so many things, and the words come flooding out, but we can’t understand any of them. We exchange a nervous glance that has become way too common for us. She asks her grandson who he is, and looks at me with eyes that say, “I’ve never seen you before.”
I scoot my chair a little closer and help her with the straw. “Mom, we brought you a strawberry milkshake from Bethel Dipper.” She looks at me and laughs, takes another first sip, savors it as long as it lasts, and she’s back!!!
Back with us in the now! Laughing at her grandson parking the car a little crooked, pleased with our conversations about his new girlfriend, and remembering I am her youngest child. I hold my phone up close to her ear, and as Alan Jackson’s gospel music streams from YouTube, she closes her eyes and sings every word.
O’ sweet Miracle in the Milkshake!
We have her back, if only for a few minutes. She marvels at the progression our family has made. Papaw went to third grade, she went to eighth, she helped me get through college, and now her grandson is going to law school…each generation standing on the shoulders of the last. So much being accomplished in four generations and yet so much being lost. I go ahead and tell her that one of her other grandsons and his wife are going to have a baby. She is so thrilled! It may not have been my news to tell, but I know she will get to hear it again… for the first time.
We talk about my sisters, her other grandchildren, great grandchildren, her brothers, her niece, and some old friends she hasn’t seen in years. Her parents are almost always still alive in our conversations. I know that might alarm some people, but it seems so comforting to her we don’t see a need to make corrections.
We know it’s about time for her dinner, and time restrictions at the rehab center are very tight, despite the fact that we are all double vaccinated. In the final minutes, we talk of long drives out on country roads and hope we will still get that chance. She wishes for another milkshake, and I wish I would have brought two.
The nurse comes and wheels her backwards toward the dining room. It startles her and she starts to cry. We take turns trying to comfort her. Our hearts shatter and our eyes fill with tears as we see the fear in hers. But ask if she wants to come home with us, and just as independent as she was before the disease, she will say, “No, I better stay here.” We hug, kiss, exchange “I love you” and “I love you too” multiple times.
I rinse out the beautiful insulated mug our friend, Nancy Powell, the owner of our favorite Bethel Dipper, bought to keep Mom’s milkshakes cold in the transport.
We reluctantly walk away. The heat hanging heavy over our silent drive out of the parking lot, and back into our reality.
Yet, we are still marveling at the Miracle in the Milkshake, and hoping there will be another second, third, and fourth, first sip!
In the Bible, Matthew 6:19, says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…”
Those wise words have never been clearer to us, as we watch it all come down to remembering the beautiful words of praise music, and the Miracle in a strawberry Milkshake.
** The Bethel Dipper in Russellville, Kentucky is also a generational success story. It was started by Nancy’s grandparents…then operated for many years (while we were all growing up) by her parents…now she’s the one lovingly feeding an entire community…and we hope it will continue to bless others for many more generations.**
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