How Crochet Helped Her Care for Her Mom with Alzheimer's

Although a beginner, she started an afghan that connected her to her mom in a way she never envisioned. 

- Posted on Apr 25, 2019

How Crochet Helped Her Care for Her Mom with Alzheimer's

Mom lay in her bed in the care facility. She slept more and more these days and hadn’t spoken much since suffering a series of small strokes. But she was still able to enjoy little things on a good day. Sunshine. A cup of coffee. My company. I sat by her side, crochet needle hooking and looping. The afghan I was making was really taking shape. “It’s nice and warm today,” I said, talking as I worked. “But I know you’re always chilly.”

When Mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s my brother and I cared for her in her home, but that was no longer possible. I started a new row on my project as Mom dozed. My movements were almost automatic now, even though I was just a beginner. I knew only the one stitch that I’d studied on YouTube. But it made my hands feel useful as I chatted with Mom, and the motion of the crocheting hook seemed to soothe both of us. Whether she napped or
watched me, I kept her up to date on what was going on.

“I watched a funny movie on TV last night,” I said, spreading my work out over my lap. “You would have liked it.” I recounted the plot, picturing Mom sitting in her favorite spot on the sofa with the finished afghan across her knees. Snuggling with it in bed. Drinking coffee with it draped around her shoulders.

Mom stirred in her bed and slowly opened her eyes. She might never see my work finished, I thought. But even so, I kept at it.

“I hope you like these colors,” I said. I’d started out using the yarns that were in my crafts bag. When those ran out I matched the colors as best I could from the store. Mom smiled faintly, watching my work. At the very least, she knew I was there beside her.

And that’s where I stayed. Mom never did get to come home or see her afghan finished before she died. It was another month before I snipped the last piece of yarn and spread the blanket out across the couch, rubbing my hand over the surface. I held it up before me. “It’s hideous,” I said. The stitches were misshapen. The colors clashed. It was nothing like what I had envisioned for Mom.

I thought of those final weeks with her, days that were also far from perfect. They were uneven, like my rows, with good days and bad. They were simple, like my stitches, like Mom’s smile or her beatific face as she peacefully napped.

So I put the afghan on the couch in my living room. It covers my knees when I watch TV or warms my shoulders when it gets chilly. I still crochet, and now that I’ve mastered a beginner’s stitch I’m thinking of trying something new. I hear there’s an angel stitch. Perhaps, in some ways, I’ve already learned it.

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