Friday, August 8, 2014

Holding on to Our Memories

This past week I've spent time getting caught up with my mother who has diabetes and onset of dementia. We've barely spoken for many years now. I live in Florida and she's where she's always been in upstate New York. It was my decision to part ways and the reasons are too personal and complicated to explain. Mom turned 90 in March. My father had Alzheimer's disease and died a few years ago. Last year my younger sister moved away from our hometown becoming the fifth of six children to leave. All mom has left is my youngest brother who makes sure she doesn't miss any doctors' appointments, helps with errands and picks up her medications. There's been a lot of drama in our family. For the most part we are not as close as most other brothers and sisters. That doesn't mean anything to me, anymore.

A few days ago, out of the blue, I called to ask mom what she wore to school when she was in the 8th grade. I was doing a blog post about my granddaughter's back to school apparel and chose to compare our four generations and what kids wore. I can't explain why this call was easy to make, but on Wednesday, I did it. 

To my surprise, we had an enjoyable conversation. Mom was happy to hear from me, although she kept forgetting who I was. She told me about the dementia, repeated things, thought I was my cousin, then thought I was her sister -- but the more we talked, the better she seemed to remember. It occurred to me that if I called frequently and purposely brought up memories that directly related to what she was talking about, maybe I would be able to help her hang on to the past longer. 

We talked again today and she was bubbling with excitement. We talked about my siblings, memories of dad, our times on the farm that she had to leave for a small apartment. She asked about my brother, her son in California, except she couldn't remember where he's been. I told her he speaks Swedish and still loves to travel. I am realizing some things about myself, too. When we do yard work, I  think about how particular mom was about the way you cut the grass to precise edging around bushes, trees and sidewalks. I used to grumble at all of the extra work, but was also amazed at how wonderful our yard always looked. 

As I grow older my memories and thoughts are more about good things rather than bad. It now seems to be her focus, as well.

So, my intentions are to keep a log here, about our conversations. I believe this new relationship will be rewarding for me and I hope with all of my heart, rewarding for mom, too. Until next time -- hold tight your memories.

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