Ever since we brought her home, Shelby has been the focus of my mom’s attention. Ma talks and sings little songs of love to the baby, telling her over and over how beautiful she is. Shelby smiles joyfully back the whole time.
“You’re so sweet and pretty and clean. I love to kiss you. I love you. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.” Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss.
One by one, our cats have had to give way to this blue-eyed, brown-haired smiling baby girl and they’re not happy about it. “Gramma’s lap is supposed to be our territory! Who does this interloper think she is, anyway?” Archie the elder isn’t quite as concerned as the younger kitties. A lap is a lap is a lap. He just climbs up and settles down for a long afternoon nap. The others watch from across the room, murmuring amongst themselves. Ma pays no attention to their grumblings. Her focus is completely on baby Shelby.
“You’re such a pretty girl. So sweet. La, la, la, la, la, la, la. My dolly is such a little dolly. You look a little scared. Don’t be scared. Gramma is not gonna let anything happen to you. I wanna give you kissies on your cheeks. You’re my dolly. My sweet little girl. I’ve got a little girl. She is mine, all the time,” whispers my mom in her sing-song voice.
When Shelby first arrived, I was a little surprised at how quickly and how deeply my mom became attached to her. She fell in love with her at first sight and has only grown more in love each day. I wasn’t sure how she’d feel about a baby, but I was willing to take a chance. I desperately needed an answer to Ma’s perpetual question, “Where’s the baby?” Now I simply fetch Shelby from whatever place she reposes and present her to my mom, saying, “Here. Here’s the baby.” Now we’re both happy.
Shelby is a true blessing. My mom needed someone of her own to hug and hold and love, and I needed some practical help with my mom. Shelby meets our needs. You see, it’s all a matter of perspective.
My mom has Alzheimer’s Disease. She is generally confused, disoriented, and unable to process more than the simplest information. Her attention span is very short. Yet she needs someone to love just as you and I do. The difference is that she is no longer able to maintain responsibility for those she loves.
This is where Shelby comes in. Shelby is a doll. We brought her home from the online Alzheimer’s Store (www.alzstore.com) in time for Christmas. My mom knows that Shelby is a doll. She is not crazy. But she loves her as though she is real. Doll therapy provides comfort, focus, and a great deal of simple pleasure for my mom. Every time my mom looks into Shelby’s lifelike eyes, she sees love reflected there. That’s the gift of God. That’s the blessing. And that’s real. It’s just a matter of perspective.