Thanks for the Memories
Memories are tricky things. They are elusive and can have catlike reflexes. They can come at you out of nowhere, which is tough when you are a dog person.
Mom has some stories that are tried and true. She can tell you how she and Dad met. She was in the Army Nurse Corps. Dad was a cute Army Doctor. They met in labor and delivery in Denver, Colorado. She thought she was joining the army to help the soldiers. She didn’t expect to deliver their babies. She was only twenty years old. He was twenty-five.
She tells those stories a lot. We’ve heard them countless times. She can still tell them effortlessly. It’s cute.
Remembering the past
We lived in Germany for five years. Mom and Dad both grew up on farms, so they traveled as much as they could while overseas. We went all over Europe. I think we went to every church and cathedral from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. Some of those memories evade her now. When I bring it up, she says, “Really?! I did that?!”
We have so many mementos from all of our trips. We have beer steins and candles and paintings and statues. My dad had been fond of slides. Yes, groan, slides, and 8mm film. All of that was lost when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans fifteen years ago. All of the photos are gone. I wish we had those to go through with mom, to keep sparking her memory.
We have put up old pictures in her room, and a few souvenirs that have survived. We found some old photo albums at her parent’s house. It will be my job, one of these days, to go through them and put them in proper albums. I think it will be a good bonding time with mom and me to do together. Some of the pictures don’t have names on the back, and I don’t know who they are! If I have one message for the world, its to label your pictures! I have old tintype photographs of mysterious family members and have no idea who they are and how I am related to these wild west people.
Mom knows that her memory isn't what it used to be
Mom knows that she has memory problems. She is becoming more aware, especially with the fact that it's more difficult for her to find the right word. I was cleaning up some treasures the other day that I found in a bin in the basement that still had dirt caked on them from Katrina. As they lay drying next to the sink, my mom came in and looked at them. She didn’t remember them. Did we really need to keep them then? We have way too much stuff.
My mom looked at them and said, “I have memory problems. I may not remember them from before, but I can remember them from now!” That was a touching moment. That’s fair! She can start from now. Memory Lane is a road under construction, and it has some road blocks, but it is well worth the trip. It’s worth it to her, so it’s worth it to me.
Do you and your loved one look through old photos? Are there any photo projects that you have done with you loved one that they enjoyed? We want to hear your story!
Do you have an in-home professional caregiver?