Her eyes watch me blankly as I turn each page and she nods her head occasionally as I narrate — like she somehow knows that nodding is the expected response. But the faraway look in her eyes tells me she doesn’t know what I’m narrating for her or who I am.
Little Red Riding Hood was the queen of scrapbook and photo album organization, and for that I am truly grateful. I enjoy finding new photos that I’ve never seen with her on my weekly Wednesday visits at her house. Her walking has become unsteady, so Wednesdays I now go to her. She watches curiously as I snap a photo or two with my phone.
I continue to try to spark something in her eyes with old photos like I was able to it seems like just months ago. But Alzheimer’s has now almost completely robbed us of those rare moments of connection, stealing so much more these last few months.
Many of the photos and mementos we go through page by page bring back such a rush of memories and I would love to talk to her about those moments and scenes from our lives. Or to my sister. There are so many photos of the three of us.
It’s these moments when I can feel my heart getting squeezed by something deep within me and wrapped in blanket of bittersweet loss. That’s when I realize I’m holding my breath and that I need to put the albums away until next time.
I remind myself to breathe as I place the albums back on the dusty shelf and shake off the sad like my dog shakes the water off her back after a bath.
This old photo of my grandparents brought a smile to my face as I remembered taking this same shot of my boys as we crossed the state line on the day we moved to Colorado when my boys were so young just nine short years ago. I never knew this grandfather but my youngest son carries his name — both of them in the right of these pictures. Who knows, maybe my Mom, little Miss Historian, took the picture of my grandparents.
Life is one transition after another in so many ways. Some big, some small, some full of joy and some full of sadness, and many a little of both. The challenge is knowing how to embrace each transition and carry through what we learn to the next one. And to do it with grace.
Well said… Your words capture the unfiltered emotion of your journey. You know I admire such brave expression. While each of us experiences losing a mom ravished by dementia differently, there are threads so similar as to make us no longer strangers but sisters in familiar grief. I understand he rawness of what you so eloquently put into words. The emotion you attempt to capture, the knowing you seek in her eyes, the bittersweet pursuing of memories. I wish it were not so for you or for her. I wish your sister was there with you as your mom passes through the shadows of darkness. Keep, keeping on loving daughter.
Thanks for reading, and for your thoughtful reply. We’re all in – all of this – together.
left my mark on “Living with…. ” our photos are the breadcrumbs that help us navigate back home.. thanks for sharing, twice!-
This write just wrapped around my heart..Such longing and honesty.. You are handling this with grace and that Grace will see you through..
This is a lovely post. And hard to believe it has been nine years since you moved to Mountain Time.
This is absolutely beautiful and poignant 😀
aw shucks…. thanks.
thanks so much for reading