“Who is that?” My daughter asks as she filters through 100 year old snapshots.
“I never heard their story. I was only a child when I looked at these photos last.”
“Which side of the family are they from?” She looks for any family likenesses.
“They look like dad’s family. I’m glad these didn’t get thrown away.”
“Who is this?”
“I think it’s my great-grandfather. I don’t know much about him. I think he was a grocer. That’s your grandfather when he was a little boy and this is your great-grandmother. I think you look the most like her.”
My daughter squints her eyes to see some resemblance.
My family and their past is in a black and white capsule. Much of what remains is in a shoe box. The family farm is gone and all the antiques burned up in a fire several years ago. I want to carry forth their past but there is so little that I know.
Box of sepia prints
few faces recognized
smile covered with icing
I still hear that voice
brush away tears
people long gone
puddle in kodachrome
One of things that we do with family is look at old family photos. There are so many dialogues. One thing is a constant we continue to make memories even as we look at the past.
More than forty years ago,I took care of my first Alzheimer’s patient. Back then we called a patient confused. The trade marks were the same: little by little the mind ebbs and the memory recedes.
I have learned much as I have looked through the window of an elderly person’s life. There is a store house of information, experience, history that is so close. My challenge as a caregiver is to find the key that unlocks the treasure chest.
By the time I enter a client’s life, they have “lost” quite a bit of memory. But there is always some treasure if I am patient. “Patient” is the operative word – I cannot have an agenda, be pushy or in a big hurry.
Mary loves children and she most often sets the tone for the conversation. Her years of experience as a school teacher are like gold for me as my other life is teaching African children. It is a joy to hear children in the background of her life.
Today- I grasped at another treasure – we look good in the same colors. She chose several outfits that would look good on either of us. Last week we had a pillow fight and got into a fit of laughter. She asked me a puzzle of a question; I asked her one in return.
Each day we find what we can do not what we can’t do and it works.
I am not inferring that caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is easy – It is Not! As the wave recedes, I am sorrowful for the yesterdays that are lost. But my hand is going to clasp hers and be grateful that there are more days filled with treasure if I am ready to hunt for it.