Memories, to a very large extent, are what make us who we are. They form our history and inform our present. The sharing of memories bonds us to others. Memories guide us, provide context, support wisdom, and serve as a foundation for creating stories, for art, for imagination…and for how much more? Without memories, our lives and our stories would be colorless until we build more memories.
But what if we can’t?
I visited my mom yesterday. She was a smart, capable woman. She was an amateur genealogist. She was a computer whiz when it came to surfing, shopping and saving photos. She was a gardener who grew azaleas, bleeding hearts, and nurtured her beloved peonies. She was a daughter, wife, and mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother, and she was the best paper-doll maker in the whole world. Now she has Alzheimers and lives in a memory care unit in an assisted-living home.
As the disease progressed and she lost parts of herself (not literally, but that’s how it felt to me) I grieved constantly. First, she lost the ability to make new memories and reasonable decisions. Then, in the ten minutes it took me to travel from her home to mine, she’d forget she’d just seen me. Next, fear overwhelmed her because she knew something was wrong with her world, but couldn’t understand what, why, or how to fix it. Then began the trips up the street. Her sweet, loving neighbors who’d known her for decades, would see Mom walking with purpose (to where, she couldn’t say) and would speak to her with kindness, cajole her, then take her home and call me.
Then the dreadful day came when she had to leave her home forever for a new place, a place where she would be safe, if not happy.
My grief has eased as I’ve ceased to fight against reality and inevitability. Now, it’s sufficient for me to see her content and safe, and catch an occasional glimpse of the person I remember. To appreciate a good day. To love what remains. When I visited her yesterday, she smiled and we conversed and laughed. Despite the missing pieces, it was worth more than I can say.
No one expected this. Not her. Not us. No one does.
Yesterday’s visit got me to thinking about what happens when we are unable to create new memories and, over time, lose the ones we've gained through the years.
The stories of our lives, our experiences, the stories we pass on from generation to generation, fuel the creation of fiction. The places, the characters, the incidents, the voices we hear in our heads when we are writing a book, who demand to be heard – what happens to them when we lose them? Fiction or non-fiction, they become as dust, never to be savored again, no longer able to be shared.
So, what’s the takeaway? What’s the “moral” of this story?
Don’t wait. Do it today.
Tell it today. Sing your song, tell your tale, make new memories even as you cherish and share the old ones. And while you’re at it, kiss your sweetheart, hug your grandbabies, cuddle your pets – dance the dance and yell and cry and tell the stories of your heart.
On behalf of my mom who’d tell you this if she could – DO IT NOW.
~ * ~Grace Greene, an award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author, writes stories of love, suspense and inspiration. Her Emerald Isle, NC books include her debut novel, BEACH RENTAL, which received a 4.5 star Top Pick rating by Romantic Times (RT Book Reviews). The sequel, BEACH WINDS, also received a 4.5 Top Pick rating, and a short story, BEACH TOWEL, and novella, BEACH CHRISTMAS, are currently available. "It's always a good time for a love story and a trip to the beach."
Grace also writes stories set in rural, small town Virginia. "Follow a Virginia Country Road and take a trip to love, mystery and suspense with a dash of Southern Gothic."
A Virginia native, Grace lives in central Virginia. Contact Grace via her website, GraceGreene.com and while you're there, please sign up for her newsletter! Find her on Twitter as @Grace_Greene and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GraceGreeneBooks.
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