When I visited Mom this week we looked at one of her many photo albums. The one that stays with her at Jamestown is full of her life. We made this one together after she moved away from the farm. Dementia robs one of present day, but Mom's memories of long ago are strong. She can name the people in the photos taken in 1946, she recognizes the house in Santa Cruz where she and Daddy started their life together and she sees expression in faces. The look her Mom had in a Thanksgiving photo as she sits down finally to a huge spread of food, made with love and served with pride.
Mom says, "Look how glad Mother was to have us all there!"
She sees my brother and remembers him as a child, all round and chubby in his little Red Ryder wagon. She sees Daddy and says, "He's so handsome in his Army uniform!" She recognizes my Aunt Joy, her sister-in-law...but can't call her name. I fill in the blanks and she turns the pages. The pages of her life.
It's hard for families going through this decline in memory and sometimes health too. But it's the little things that add meaning to a person's life. Taking the time to go back as we go forward. Get those photo albums out and sit down with someone you love, share the memories...