Posts Tagged With: memory loss

 
 

Forgotten Trains

It’s curious how life circles around.

The chemotherapy treatment my mother has been receiving since her midsummer surgery has ravaged this once vibrant woman. Physically she’s as frail as a cricket’s wing. Mentally she’s as scrambled and unpredictable as a toddler. Whether that’s the effects of the chemo, her stroke from years ago, the cancer, dementia, or a combination of them all, no one knows. It little matters.

img_20191007_104111As a young girl my mother used to let me sit beside her on the piano bench as she played music from My Picture book of Songs  with its charming drawings and seasonal themes. We sang of big black choo choo trains, puppies next door, aeroplanes flying, whirly, twirly leaves and dozens of other sweet topics. That song book still exists sans the yellow cover, having miraculously survived a housefire and six other children loving its pages with pencil and crayon. The cellophane tape mom had carefully applied now scars the ragged-edged pages.

I wrote of my love for and experience with this book and its effect on my life, my children’s lives and my grandchildren’s lives several years ago. What I’d never conceived of happening with this book occurred a couple weeks ago as I sat on the front porch with my mother.

The thermometer barely tapped the seventy degree mark, and a light breeze wandered across the porch. That slight wind carried the sound of a train whistle. That was unusual. Sure, there are tracks that run alongside the state highway half a mile away, but I’d never seen a train in all the times I’d visited, let alone heard one. I remarked on that. Then I said, “That reminds me of the train song we used to sing all the time when I was little.”

Mom didn’t remember the train song.

And so, I sang it to her.

“Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?

Choo choo choo, it’s something big and black.

See it steaming as it chugs along.

Hear it ringing as it says ding dong.

Choo choo choo there it goes again.

Choo choo choo choo choo choo choo,

It’s a big black train.

Wooooohooo, wooooohooo,

It’s a big black train.”

She hummed along and sang a word or maybe two.

Within those brief words and notes, mother and daughter switched roles.

We enjoyed a few more minutes on the porch swing in silence, taking in the view of the mountains, and an occasional hawk circling. Lulu the Wonder Cat wandered among our legs, thought about jumping onto Mom’s lap, thought better of it.

Inside, Mom surprisingly knew right where to find that old songbook. She sat at her puzzle table while I sat at the piano to play those old songs for her. She hummed along to some of them. I couldn’t sing, as all my effort went toward holding back tears so I could read the notes.

Full circle sure isn’t what I thought it would be.

Categories: Cancer, Family, Memory Lane, mother, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Still Kami: Bringing Me Back to Myself

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 16, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

I read this book about five years back called “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. (It’s coming out as a movie soon, but of course, the book is better.) Since then, and since my Mom’s stroke, I’ve thought about getting older and memory loss a whole bunch.

Frost lace on a December morning.

Frost lace edging the leaves on a December morning.

Some days I already feel ancient and ready to call it a life. I never dreamed that by this age I’d feel old already. Creaky, slow to get going in the mornings, aches, pains. Some days thinking about living another twenty, thirty or forty years just about puts me over the edge. I know this is tough for you to grasp since you’re all still really young regardless of how old or mature you might feel.

Anyway, the real point I want to get to is this. If I start to forget stuff, or get a bit of dementia, or if I just need lots of physical care, could you please make sure I get my daily fix?

I know for some people that’s a morning cup of coffee, or a diet coke, or some chocolate, or maybe a certain news program, a half hour of Jeopardy, a glass of wine, a good laugh, prayer, meditation or a zillion other possibilities.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

For me, my daily fix comes in the form of nature. When I start to forget who I am a walk at the Riparian always brings me back to myself. If I can’t fit in a walk then just sitting on the porch swing can kickstart the old psyche. Even as a kid in midwinter with the temps hovering at minus ten, I’d find a way to get my daily dose of sunshine, usually curled into the shape of the sunlight coming through a window.

If you have to put me in a nursing home or care center it’d be best if they had a sunroom, or a little garden. If, heaven forbid, I have to live in an apartment I’d really really really need a patio or porch and some plants with a hummingbird feeder and maybe even a bird feeder.

Indoor plants don’t cut it. I always manage to kill them with kindness and attention, or inattention, I’m never sure which.

What is it about a body of water that's so soothing?

What is it about a body of water that’s so soothing?

A daily walk or stroll will keep me from tipping the scale from sanity to insanity, even as my legs and eyesight and mental capacity all wither away.

Yup, I count nature as more important than books, if you can believe it. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to an audio book or large print novel to read while I sit outside in the shade or the sun.

That’s all for today, I guess.

Oh, except, I hope you know what your daily fix is. What’s that one thing that gives you daily energy, fills your morning bucket, floats your twenty-four hour boat or keeps you moving forward every day? If you don’t know I hope you find it soon and then make sure it happens regularly. It can help keep you cheerful even in tough times.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Nature isn’t all that little, but a tiny bit of it every day keeps me steady and strong.

Loving you in a big way,

Mom

Yesterday's sunset at the Riparian.

Yesterday’s sunset at the Riparian.

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Nature, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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