My daughter gave her grandma a baby doll. Except for the fact that its eyes don’t close, the doll baby looks and feels convincingly enough like a real baby. The cute little dress that the dolly is wearing was worn by my granddaughter Violet when she was little – one of my favorite dresses, embellished with sweet, girly-looking smocking.
Why give an 85-year-old woman a doll?
My mother has Alzheimer’s and the list of things which bring her joy grows smaller with each passing week. We had hoped the baby doll (we’ll call her ‘Dolly’) would bring her a measure of joy in the midst of the stress that her life had become – especially the stress she did not yet know she would experience with the next day’s move from our home to her new place in memory care assisted living.
On this final night in our home, Momma sat on her bed with Dolly propped up against her bed pillows. I sat in mom’s comfy chair in the corner of mom’s room and watched the encounter between the new would-be friends. Seemingly oblivious to my presence, Momma talked to Dolly a bit, patting the doll’s dress and stroking her hair, telling her how pretty she looked. She seemed a bit troubled by Dolly’s inability to reciprocate in the conversation, skeptically watching the baby for a response, then looking concerned when none would come.
Just when I thought Momma would give up on Dolly, my sweet mother leaned in real close, gently stroked the baby’s cheeks, then held Dolly’s face between her time-worn hands. Momma then demonstrated the measure of her big heart when she gazed into the unblinking eyes and said something to the baby that astounded me.
“I’ve learned in my lifetime that if you’re trying to have a conversation with someone and they don’t talk back and they just stare at you, it sometimes means that they have been deeply hurt and had trauma in their life.”
Momma gently kissed the baby’s cheek and added, “You’re safe with me.”
This post was brought to you courtesy of Five Minute Friday (hosted by Kate Motaung) and the word “measure.” Writers set a timer for five minutes, free write on the word prompt and publish it on our blog so the whole world (well, our little corner, anyway) can read it! Learn more about the writing challenge at Five Minute Friday.