What My Mother Taught Me

My mother only ever had 2 pieces of fashion and beauty advice for her 5 girls – never go out without a dab of lipstick and clean underwear. This was a metaphor of course (although we did not know this as teenagers) for the importance of feeling good about yourself on the inside (hence the underwear) and a small attention to detail goes a very long way (hence the lipstick). So, when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and as she grew less and less mobile, her wise words took on their full meaning.

As a young woman, my mother had an uncanny resemblance to Rita Hayworth, the famous American actress dubbed the ‘love goddess’ and top pin-up girl for GI’s during World War II. She was a stunningly beautiful woman and always very meticulous about her appearance. So, each time I would visit her in the long-term care home, I would massage her hands and feet with a luxurious cream, dry shampoo and comb her hair, do her nails and complete the look with a touch of lipstick. I was trying to help her look good on the outside so that hopefully this would help her feel a little better on the inside.

At the beginning of her illness, buttons and laces were a challenge. Later, getting a T-shirt or sweater over her head was a chore and the pants, well forget about it. I simply could not dress her without the assistance of the nurses. And of course, we all know how busy nurses are so basically my mother usually wore the same old clothes that the nurses could easily get on and off.

But what a hard time I had finding an outfit to go with the lipstick! Never mind trying to find pretty underwear, I could not even find fashionable clothing that she could easily wear. Herein lies the beauty and finesse of adaptive clothing. It is the little details that make all the difference. It is not because you have health or physical challenges that you cannot look and feel beautiful, inside and out. My mother taught me that.

Contributed by Liza G, Daughter