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A spiritual symbol of Hinduism and Buddhism provide a way for Sue Henkin-Haas and her aging mother to keep their loving connection.

Each year, I participate in a Facebook group where we are challenged to create, draw or photograph a mandala a day - for 12 days. This year, I did the project with my 92-year-old mother who is suffering from memory loss.

“What are we going to do?” my mother asked.

I told her we are going to draw mandalas together.

“What’s a mandala?” she said.


I went on to explain that a mandala is a circle – a circle within a square, that in some cultures is seen as symbol of life.

To start, I had printed out a mandala for her to color. Mom studied the markers - making careful color choices and began to draw.

She had been agitated – a concern since she started showing signs of dementia. She works herself up about something and then obsesses about it for a very long time. But now she was quiet. She wasn’t looping. She was smiling, focused. It was a really sweet hour together.

The next day I walked in - art supplies in hand - announcing we are ready to get started on day 2. She looked at me and smiled.

“What are we going to do?” she asked.

Every day we started from scratch. Each day began with “What is a Mandala?” Every day I answered the question – each time a little differently. I kept coming back to a circle within a square.

Towards the end of the 12 days, I suggested we go for a walk in a nearby park. It was a beautiful day and Mom was thrilled to be out. I started gathering rocks, pine cones, leaves – anything I could find to make a mandala. She sat down, looking positively radiant, watching my progress and admiring the trees.

When we got home she created her mandala – very simple – she was tired after our outing.

“I’m so happy you are here” she said, hugging me.

“Me too” I said. “Me too.”

With a Perspective, I’m Sue Henkin-Haas.

Sue Henkin-Haas is a health educator and family conference facilitator.