I have a gentle memory of my mother and I on a sunlit day in the spring making our way through trees to an old barn looking for Phytolacca americana,more commonly known as poke salad in the south. I was about 5 years old, and I remember her showing me how to identify the poke salad plant and warning me never to eat it until she had cooked it. As we walked home toting our paper bag of poke salad, we stopped to admire some dandelions and I remember picking one to offer her as a treasure. I can clearly recall the feel of sunshine on my face that day and the happiness I felt in this adventure. Perhaps it was this sweet introduction to horticulture that took shape in my life and later inspired my studies in plant science.
Our family began to notice changes in my mother’s personality when she was in her seventies. That uncomfortable feeling that this behavior was not normal aging stole into our lives and never left. My mother died of Alzheimer’s complications on April 30th, 2011, just three years after being diagnosed. Those three years were a gift to our family and yet so heartbreaking. She fought courageously with love for her children, trying so hard to return to the life we had all left behind. It was during this time that I revisited my college studies in Horticulture Therapy and made a sensory garden for her. She loved the garden and for me this garden gifted a lesson in how resilient love is. A lesson not taught in a classroom but found in the bond of a mother’s love. It was in this very garden on a lovely spring evening that our family watched in awe as hundreds of fireflies lit up the evening sky performing their glow dance. This beautiful performance was especially bittersweet… our beloved mother, our grandmother, had slipped from this life just hours before. In our hearts it was a fitting end to this beautiful life we were privileged to share in.
At the end of her life she did not always know my name but she knew I belonged with her and so it is for my mother and the many who have borne the adversity of Alzheimer’s disease that MAKEN MUDD PIES, INC. donates a percent of each dollar made to Alzheimer’s Disease Research. It is our fervent hope the cure to end this heartbreaking disease will come soon.