When I had Dorothy out and about last week, I asked her what she remembered about her past. She answered, “not much Cheryl”. I was disheartened to realize that the years are fading away and mom does not remember much of her history. She doesn’t recall anything currently- and the last decade or the last 50 years seem to be muddy waters to her. When I ask specific questions about specific snapshots of time- she remembers some events exactly as she used to tell them, but more and more of these memories are fading away. She can remember how she met my day- he dated her sister twice and then asked her out, what her Granny taught her- to work hard and to be honest, what she and her sister did for fun- they would put socks on and wax the floor.
When I ask her about her friends in high school, or where she worked when she was a teenager- sometimes she can recall a few memories, and other times she just says, “I don’t remember”. When I ask her about raising four kids- her memory is foggy at times.
Mom always asks about my daughter and her family- but not about my son, he’s chosen a path that does not include us. She asks about her youngest son, Paul- who is on this journey with her- who she sees at least once a week- but doesn’t remember. Her oldest son who died in 2009- whom she hadn’t seen or spoken to since 1992.
She never asks about my younger brother – who left right after high school to join the Navy- he never came back “home” – he married, had a family of his own and also chose a path that did not include us. He did come to see her a few years ago- I’ve always been in touch with him- and I told him that if he felt he needed to resolve anything with mom, he should come and do it before she got any worse. I always include him in the conversation and she always says he married a bad woman.
Her memory has shrunken down to about a 3-minute conversation, of asking about people she remembers. This 3-minute conversation is repeated over and over and over and over- at this point I am thankful for this conversation- I know that this conversation will dwindle down slowly and dissolve into her not remembering anything. And I’m sure as much as I know it is on its way, I won’t be ready for it.
It is what it is- and we do the best we can. My advice to you -is- keep asking your loved one questions. Write the answers down- record them talking about their past- ask them if they want to leave any notes or words of wisdom to their children or grandchildren. Just keep talking to them, keep listening to their song over and over and over again. This way you will have it memorized and be able to tell them what you know about them when they get to that point where they don’t remember anymore. When they get to the stage where they cannot communicate anymore. When you go to visit you can sit with them, hold their hand and tell them what you remember about them as being your parent,- or whatever they are to you- you will be able to include the stories that are theirs — the ones that were before your time. I am hopeful that they will hear you and somewhere inside they will remember themselves. Maybe some of the stories you tell will bring a smile to their face. I’m sure it will bring a smile to yours. I know it will bring a smile to me-when I sit beside my mom and tell her all about herself.
Love and Light,