Rewind: Ice Cream & Car Keys

Another look back at defining moments in my Alzheimer’s journey with Momma. This is a subject that comes up often in caregiver circles: I know my loved one needs to stop driving, but how do I take the car away? This is how our story of that defining moment unfolded . . .

Facebook Journal Entry – September 15, 2015

Momma loves ice-cream. She often tells me she has not met a flavor she does not like. But, it is quite obvious she absolutely loves butter pecan.

My mom oftentimes reminisces about a favorite childhood memory while enjoying her favorite treat.  In this memory, her family would take her grandmother grocery shopping every Thursday evening in Clarksburg, West Virginia. On the way home, the Peet children just knew their daddy (equally passionate about the creamy confection) would stop and treat them all to ice-cream.

Momma’s paternal grandparents, Wilbur and Bessie Peet

This story is deeply etched into mom’s memory – a lovely memory that rises to the surface whenever she scoops her favorite treat. I love to hear my sweet momma share the stories from her youth, from her days in nursing school, from my childhood, and from her many years dedicated to her profession of nursing.

The memories that are stored in this special place deep within her mind come easily. Sadly, not all things in life are so easily remembered for mom these days. We all sometimes forget where we put our phone or our car keys, or struggle to remember a name. This is different. Mom’s memory loss is no longer confined to temporary lapses like occasionally forgetting the name of a friend at church, or where she put her purse, or what she ate at her last meal. The disease that is robbing her of memory has now captured her short-term knowledge of whether she has eaten at all. She will sometimes serve herself bowl after bowl of butter pecan ice-cream, single-handedly polishing off an entire carton in a few hours, then ask if we can go shopping because she hasn’t had ice-cream in ages.

Many other changes are evident to her family and friends, and it is very concerning.

Today is the day we have to tell Momma that she can’t drive anymore. Our family has discussed this and we all believe it is time. My heart has ached all day in anticipation of our talk with Mom. How grateful we are for our friends and family who are praying for us as we have this hard discussion with Mom.

We enjoyed dinner together while listening to Momma tell her stories and ask the same questions over and over again. Wayne and I give one another knowing glances, acknowledging that the time is now. After clearing the table, we sit with mom in the living room. I fidget quite a bit then begin by saying, “Momma, you know that Wayne and I love you very much, don’t you?” Oh, yes, she acknowledges. She knows that full well.

“Momma, you know we would never do anything to hurt you, don’t you? You know that all we’re doing for you is with your best interest in mind, don’t you?” Well, yes, she knows that too. Then Momma starts to fidget and get a little worried look in her eyes.

We share with her that we have decided that it is time for her to stop driving. As we gently shared with her the reasons why, I could see the tears brimming in her eyes, ready to spill at any moment. I think Wayne’s eyes were tear-filled too, but I couldn’t rightly tell, for my own eyes were stinging as I fought back the urge to cry.

The discussion was at times difficult, then sweet, then funny, but always with a heart-rending undercurrent that life was taking a turn that none of us wanted to take. In the end, Momma agreed, suggesting that we take the car with us so we could come and visit and help her more often.

Tomorrow Momma will wake up to a new day and she may not remember this conversation. She will probably call me in a panic when she gets up in the morning and discovers that her car keys are missing and that her car is not occupying its usual spot in the garage.

But, right now, in this moment, we will enjoy butter pecan ice-cream together.

Author: barefootlilylady

I love sharing about my barefoot gardening adventures, hence my blogger name. As I write, some of my other passions might spill out -- like fun with grandkids, baking and sewing endeavors, what I'm studying in Scripture, and the like. My readers will notice that one of the primary things I write about is Alzheimer's. May what I write be an encouragement to anyone who is a caregiver for someone they love with memory loss.

6 thoughts on “Rewind: Ice Cream & Car Keys”

  1. It’s a very poignant account. And did she worry where the car had gone when she woke up the next day . . . and the day after . . . and . . . ?


    1. Yes, Lucy, she did. I alerted the local police department as to the situation so they would have record of what happened when she would inevitably call to report I had stolen her car. They were so kind. Once they were aware, they even had a patrol office stop by from time to time to check on her and chat.
      The Saturday that followed my taking the car, I had arranged for my sister to take her to her hair appointment. She was still confused and rather livid that her car was gone. My sister called and asked what to do. I told her to just “agree with mom” and tell her you called Cindie and gave her the what-for. I told her to say that Cindie listened and will be back with the car tomorrow afternoon (which was true, as I came on Sundays and stayed through Tuesdays). The truth is, Mom was angry or frustrated about it intermittently for quite some time. BUT, it was still the right thing to do.


  2. I don’t remember reading this post when you first posted – maybe it was before I found your blog.
    My mother-in-law LOVED butter pecan ice cream, too, and she’s from West Virginia.
    I remember after she moved here, to Texas, to live with us, I took her to the doctor for a hearing test. I was allowed to sit outside the booth she was in to watch/listen. She got a lot of words wrong, but I had to keep from laughing out loud (so it wouldn’t interfere with the test) when she got “ice cream” right every time! Even at home I could swear she could hear us whisper “ice cream” from her bedroom way on the other side of the house from the kitchen.
    Yes, she LOVED her ice cream, and especially butter pecan. But for the life of me I don’t know why. My Wayne doesn’t know why his mother liked it so much, either.


    1. Yes, some of the stories I am going to “rewind” are actually from my pre-blog days when I used the “notes” feature of Facebook for my stories. You can still find those stories under my Notes section.
      I absolutely love your little reminisce too. Even when mom got a little dairy intolerant as she grew older, ice cream was never refused. I personally am not a big fan of butter pecan ice cream either. I do like the flavor of the ice cream part, but give me my pecans as a separate snack, not IN my ice cream. My mom also couldn’t resist ‘Caramel Cashew’.


  3. Cindie, I can only imagine how difficult it was when you had to take the keys. My sweet Daddy is 89 with a sound mind, and he decided on his own that he no longer needed to drive. But, he still wants his car sitting under the carport just in case he should need it. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, I am glad your mom had ice cream!

    Liked by 1 person

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