Life with Mom
—-This is a story of a shared life with Mom after her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.—
I have to admit that although the job of cleaning stuff out can be thankless and unrewarding, it can also create the opposite – a thankful, rewarding and warm atmosphere, that permeates a resolve to continue on.
Photos and historical family memorabilia have consumed me these past few days. Someone along the way – (my mother) – thought these things were important to save. I’m so glad she did.
I uncovered an oasis of school pictures that I had not thought of in years. I grabbed the large and tattered envelopes and sat down on the bed. I began going through them slowly and deliberately, while acknowledging the many memories that flooded my mind. When I looked at each picture, I could see the innocence in my face and eyes, an innocence not yet tainted by life’s betrayals, risks, and obstacles.
I recognize some of the clothes I wore and thought special enough to pose in for school portraits. I see a naugahyde vest that I apparently wore 2 years in a row. My mother made the vest for me, and I remember thinking I was special because no one else had one. I showed Mom the picture and happily told her how wonderful it made me feel to wear it because she made it. She confessed that she doesn’t remember the vest or making it. I watched her closely for signs of sadness or frustration for not remembering, but nothing apparent surfaced.
Other treasures found in this incidental hiding place include a Mother’s Day card I made for her in kindergarten, and a newspaper photograph of an innocent and happy group of kids at our town library in celebration of Halloween in 1971.
Seeing these things again have provided me with important clues into the past. I recognize a time of freedom, safety, purity, and lack of sophistication. They have nudged me to consider how the past has shaped me, and how it might impact my future self in ways still yet unknown.
Moving into the old homestead has furnished me with opportunities to assess my life in ways that have never occurred to me. The timing of this “project” as it relates to my age and past experiences begs me to pay attention to the important hidden messages in the history that has luckily found me.
I realize now how important it is for children to grow up feeling safe and loved. These past few days of reminiscence have been a steady and honest teacher to a girl who lived her younger years enveloped in an untroubled and worriless world, believing that our planet was a sphere of goodness, laughter, and contentment.
In many ways, it still is.