Christmas is near upon us and I tend to revisit memories of my childhood this time of year. This is especially true now because memories are hard to come by in our family right now. Unless they’re distant memories — and by distant I mean before I was born. Let me explain.
(Above) My parents, with Skye photo-bombing, about 10 years ago.
My folks are now both in their ‘twilight’ years and with age has come memory loss.
The way dementia (or Alzheimer’s disease) works is it robs you of your most recent memories — what you had for lunch, how that new-fangled toaster works, that you have something on the stove … What remains are the memories of your youth. As the disease progresses, you may understand that the person who says, “Hi Mom” is your daughter, but you may not recognize them if you pass them in a public place. You may be quite sure that no one has told you that you had a doctor’s appointment and then become irate if you are reminded that you had in fact been told.
There is much to learn about how best to have a conversation with someone who has lost much of their memory.
You proceed tentatively, for you’re not quite sure where the edges are crisp or already blurred.
“Do you remember the teepee we built in the backyard and how we would spend hours pretending to be ‘Indians’, living off the land?”
“Do you remember when you used to take us to look at the autumn colours in Gatineau Park?”
“Do you remember when I was a toddler?”
“Do you remember your wedding day?”
The answers might all be ‘no’ and the absence of these memories tragic, but thankfully, that is not all that matters …