Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about my mother and she often visits me in my dreams. The strange thing is this: I always remember or dream about her the way she used to be, how she reacted and what she looked like when I was growing up. In my mind’s eye, I always see the vivacious, attractive, intelligent woman and the strict but loving mother.
Only when I page through the pictures taken during the latter years before she passed away at the age of ninety-six, do I remember the small withered little figure that she became. I also remember her outrageous sense of humor, the jokes we shared and the gossipy tales we exchanged.
The old age home where she lived the last five years of her life, launched a new program for their Alzheimer patients. We were asked to contribute soft toys, jigsaw puzzles, music and, above all, time to spend with our family members resident in the home.
My daughter’s contribution was cushions and aprons made of a durable denim which she decorated with various types of textured fabrics, securely attached buttons, beads, zippers and ribbons to provide mental stimulation and finger exercises. My mother was then still able to knit and we encouraged her to participate in the project by knitting squares in bright colors, which were also sewed onto the cushions. In the few pictures that I selected and published below, you can see two of these in bright yellow and pink.
Toward the end of the project, she still knitted the squares but refused to hand them over, as she loved to display the lovely colors on her dresser, and she started grumbling because the other residents were playing with “her” cushions. My daughter then made her a cushion of her very own, with her name embroidered on it, as a Christmas gift.
At this time we realized that she has started to suffer from severe memory loss to such an extent that she no longer recognized family or friends and her thinking abilities became so impaired that it interfered with her daily functioning in life. This change, from mother and mainstay in our family life to a frail dependent, was a difficult transition for all of us. It is for this reason, I think, that I subconsciously prefer to remember her the way she used to be. Before.
Assignment: “For this week’s photo challenge, share a picture that symbolizes transitions, change, and the passing of time”.