Wednesday, April 11, 2007

WILL YOU REMEMBER?


Serious moment of reflection here. This is not going to be quite worthy of being a "Deep Thought" but it's pretty close.

We were discussing the grandparents the other day (my and hubby's grandparents). I have both my grandmothers living; and actually until recently my great-grandmother who died at the age of 101. My husband only has his paterrnal grandmother left. Of course, as you can imagine, they are all getting along in age. They all range in the late 70's to mid 90's. And lately, there has been discussion in both families about dementia and Alzheimers. The grandma's are getting pretty forgetful. Hubby's gma doesn't even know who he is anymore; certainly doesn't know he's married or has three girls of his own now. My own are starting as well; although they certainly are trying to hide it very well. Can I be perfectly honest? Alzheimer's scares the bejeesuz out of me. I can't imagine living your enitre life, only to forget it all - even yourself. All the entities that you have used to build your personality - vanished. All those precious memories you've spent a lifetime building only to be discarded effortlessly by your mind. It seems so unjust, cruel and unfair. It scares me even more because it's hereditary and it's in my family.

I can't imagine not remembering my favorite toys as a child, cherished schoolmates, and beloved pets. Camping trips, going to the zoo or family vacations. I can't comprehend not remembering all the crazy stuff I did as a teenager (some I wish I COULD forget), school dances, fancy prom dresses and first kisses and first loves. The year you met your soul mate, the day he proposed, your wedding day down to every finite detail of the dress your wore, the flowers you carried, the guests who smiled at you - all gone. I can't fathome forgetting the day my children were born: hearing their tiny cries, touching their soft skin or smelling the aroma of them so sweet. All the tender memories from them growing up: first steps, first smiles, first words. Years and years that you waiting a lifetime to get to and experience. Then imagine watching old home movies or looking through photographs and not know who you are looking at. Not finding faces or places in the archives of your mind because they have long been abandoned; and replaced with confusion.

I am one of those people who has a memory like an elephant. I kid you not, I remember things from as young as 2 years old. I definately remember the saffari I was on when a giraffe stuck his head in the window and scared the living daylights out of me. I remember crazy, unimportant things... like the color dress I wore at my 10th birthday. I remember a lot of great things that are beyond important - like the day I found out I was having twins. I must have a very organized brain or something; things so neatly put away. And the thought of one day having all my internal files thrown up in the air and float aimlessly down again in disarray - to me that's inhumane. And even knowing that it might be a moot point to get upset about it (it may just be inevitable); and also knowing I can't help the grandma's either is indescribably sad.

Hubby told me maybe the grace in it all is not knowing what you've lost; so you really don't grieve for it. Maybe the Godsend is not realizing you've lost it all. I don't believe that. I don't think people can stand there and not realize there are important memories missing they can't retrieve anymore. I can't see it being peaceful to wake up to a roomful of strangers and wondering why they are so sad you don't know who they are. I don't believe it is not missed: it's missed in those who watch your mind fade away, along with their memories of you in it.

So after I probably depressed the hell out of you; don't worry because I'm not going to leave this on a sour note. I just want to say I've realized something really important and I want you to share in it to. LIVE every day to your FULLEST capacity. Don't worry about what may or may not be there when you are 90. The most important thing is to have experienced and to have lived your life. There never is guarantees in anything we do. We all leave this spinning rock at some point. I dont necessarily know if we take our memories with us. I think maybe they were made to share with others, who carry them on with them to share with others. Maybe that's the joy and the sanctity of preserving memories: to be carried in the hearts of others. I firmly believe it's the impression you made on those around you that matter the most. So I invite you all to share your vigor for life, and leave your mark on this world in the most meaningful way that you possibly can... just live.

12 comments:

Maria said...

Thank you for the reminder. I felt exactly as you do when I was leaving my neighbor Orna's funeral. I remember thinking that this was a woman who LIVED. And what a wonderful thing it said about her life.

Thanks for taking me back to the path.

Lene said...

Wow, deep post is right!

Alzheimers is a scary disease! Like you, I have an excellent memory. I don't forget anything...much to my DH's dismay.;) Forgetting all of those moments that you described...how horribly sad.

My grandpa's sister has alzheimers and her husband had it also(he passed away a couple of years ago). Think about how sad that was for their children and for their marriage. It was just so sad.

Great message at the end! I try to remember that, but sometimes it is hard. Thanks for the reminder.

Em said...

A very inspirational message. It is very scary to think about forgetting family and friends and moments in our life. So it really is important to make the most of them right now!

Burg said...

My great-grandmother suffered from dimentia before she died. The docs said that her brain was literally deteriorating.. I must say though, that she went to very happy places.. She didn't remember grandad dying. She remembered us all, just not to look at us, we'd have to remind her. Then it was only a guess whether she remembered us or not. If I have to lose it, I want to go back to a happy place too..

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Deep. But so real and true.

Jenny said...

It is scary. I don't know whether it's harder on the person suffering or their loved ones watching them. Either way, it's so unfair. But, I love your conclusion. Live life to the fullest!

Slick said...

Well, your husband has a point, at some stage....you won't remember what you've lost but in the beginning, I'm sure you'll realize there are gaps missing in your past.

Scary thought...

Now, I'll be ridding my drug cabinet for my happy pills. Thanks Elle! :p

DariDonovan said...

Memories are all we have sometime. My best friend was my Grandmother who passed at the age of 94 in 2002. A part of her stays within me and guides me along the way still today. I was blessed not only to have her in my life but also because my own children shared in her love.

I am begging for votes as a Top Momma so if ya get a moment today, stop by and read the post and vote for me PLEASE, lol.

Chrissy said...

I am fortunate to have all 4 grandparents still living. How many people in their mid-thirties do you know that can say that? My 37 year old brother and myself are the only people I can think of.

Your husband's thought is a good one. Sometimes i like to think that the thoughts are still in there, but those affected by it don't have the ability to express the thoughts/memories. Does that make sense?

I read an article recently about a man in his 30's who has the on-set of Alzheimers. Now, that's scary!

ELLE said...

Chrissy that is so sad!! 30's is much too young. Well any age is not a good age; but you know what I mean :(

Catwoman said...

I'm with you, Elle, I think this has got to be so sad to watch someone lose their memory piece by piece. And I don't know either if it's worth to be the person who has it or the one watching the decline.

Either way, it's a horrible disease. I hope they find a cure soon.

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. I worry about my own mother (who's not yet 60) and the history of Alzheimers in our family. When she forgets something so simple as where her glasses are (on her head) or where she left her purse, I get so sad.