My Mom Was a Special Lady
My mother, Sybil Miner Beck was very special, not just to me, but to my family and to many others in the community. She was a true jokester with a sharp mind and wit. She liked to do things that made her kids enjoy life. One example was the day it was raining. She put on a pair of socks and sprinkled talcum powder on the long linoleum covered hallway floor and turned it into a skating rink. She would give a short run and the momentum would carry her down the powder slickened floor. Soon we were all in socks and “skating.” As kids we thought it was great and it felt as though we were flying. It was exciting and heady stuff for us.
Dad didn’t like it when he almost fell in the hallway. Even though the area was swept clean, some of the talc residue remained. Only after the floor was wet mopped did it lose its slipperiness.
We kids made beetle-boppers. Taking old stockings, we would stuff the toes with socks until they were about the size of a baseball and tie the hose into a knot to keep the socks in place. We would whack at each other without causing pain. They would make a loud WHOP when we were hit. It was fun until we broke a light bulb. Mom told us to put them away, but didn’t punish us.
She loved to read and to play with words. When one of us would say something, her mind would connect and give her an actual song that she would sing. I think I got my love of words and the desire to manipulate words into stories from her. When I was at work, I would do the same thing, singing a chorus, telling a joke, or sharing a personal story about something that a coworker would say.
My ability to connect with words helped me when I was confronted with a problem, patient concern, or a family complaint. My ability to think on my feet helped to diffuse many situations. Often the person with the complaint only needed someone to sit with them and to listen.
When as a supervisor I really listened to what the person was saying. Sometime it was an underlying fear or it was the pain that was talking. Resolution could be as simple as changing the medication time, the diet, or a change of rooms.
Mom worked at many jobs besides being a mother. She was a clerk at the Red & White store as a teenager. She did income taxes for many years, was a bank teller, and kept books and did payroll for a large lumber company. She taught Sunday school for many years. She loved to teach the kids and us.
Slowly Alzheimer’s took all of that away. The stories that she loved to tell slowly slipped from her memory. The ability to do mathematics and bookkeeping was stolen away. Her brain’s recognition of the written word was blinded. She lost the ability to speak rationally. At the end of her life, she had even forgotten how to eat.
Alzheimer’s is such a hideous, cruel disease. It steals the mind and soul of the person and leaves only a husk.