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.