The Memory Keepers

My mother has dementia. It’s increasing rapidly, now. At first, she suffered only the loss of recent events, which my father kept secret for a while. Not long before he died, he pulled me aside and told me, “Mom forgets a lot.” But it wasn’t until after his death, that I realized how much of her memory loss he’d compensated for.

sandsoftime1In the last year or so, her dementia has progressed to long-term memory loss. Often, she can’t remember what great-grandchildren belong to which grandchild. Or where her grandchildren live. Or what they do for a living. I live across the country from her, so I’m already on the periphery of her life. Someday, I’ll phone and she won’t know who I am.

I’m reluctant to remind her of her youthful escapades she’s relayed many times throughout my life for fear I’ll discover that even those events, grooved most deeply into her memory, are now lost. Sometimes, I think of something I wish I’d asked my father before he died, and now I’ve waited too late to ask my mother many things.

I’ve always had excellent recall of my childhood, which most of the time is a blessing. But I already know I’ve forgotten some things I used to know. That saddens me. Once upon a time, I started a written record of my childhood memories. Too soon, I got distracted. But now it’s imperative that I start again. To record not only memories of my childhood, but memories of my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. And all that I know of my parents’ and grandparents’ lives.

There are too many things I don’t want to forget. Eventually, that book of memories may read like fiction to me, but the tales will not be lost. They will remain for those who care to know them. I will be a memory keeper. And I must begin now.

It’s never too late … until it is.

Linda

13 thoughts on “The Memory Keepers

  1. Zinnser says to write one memory per day. Takes a while but it worked for me, as they came . Sorry about your Mom. Maybe read Still Alice.

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  2. My mother’s on the verge, but denies it. But I can see it and so can my father. Writing down the memories is what I guess I’ll have to do as well.

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  3. In addition to writing memories, make sure to take a lot of pictures along the way. In that, the written remembrances can interweave with images. We tend to become more visual oriented as we age. While it’s a tough road to travel, best wishes that it doesn’t become a difficult path.

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  4. I know how you are feeling, Linda. I lived in Florida for the last ten years of Mom’s life. I really enjoyed the phone calls where we would just talk and before we knew it, maybe an hour had gone by. Then toward the end, there wasn’t much for her to say, even when I flew up there 3 times a year. It was heartbreaking. Thirteen years later, I still find myself wanting to share things with her.

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  5. So true. I wish I had asked my grandparents more questions and paid more attention. I’m sorry to hera about your mom. It must be hard to realize.We do need to be memory keepers.

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