Saturday, May 9, 2015

Memories and Melodies

My mother was a woman who cherished memories. She took notes, treasured family gatherings, and always had her camera clicking. But at much too young of an age Alzheimer’s began to steal her memories. Her alertness to the world around her slowly faded to a blank stare and incoherent gaze. She has not known me for years. Nevertheless, I sometimes drive the distance to see her. On one of those occasions, about 20 months ago I found her in a state of chatter. I spoke to her and though I knew I would not be successful I tried to interact with her. But she stared blankly ahead oblivious to my presence and chattered away. I decided just to listen and did so for about an hour. Most of what she said made no sense but every now and then she would string 6 or 8 words together in a sentence. As I listened it occurred to me that there was something like a reel to reel tape playing her mind of events that occurred 50 plus years ago. In her demented state she was interacting with those events. I listened closely and discovered that I was on the reel to reel tape that she was interacting with. She would say “You know I have these two kids”. And if there were only two kids then one of them would have been me and that would have dated the event around 54 or 55 years ago. Once a brief smile came across her face as she said to one of those kids “Look at you, you are so cute” (I am quite certain she was probably referring to me). I realized something about my mother that day that I guess I already knew – The melody of her life was her children. That day she gave me a gift of listening as she recited the melody. Alzheimer’s had robbed her mind of the verses her life had written, but she was maintaining a feeble grasp on the melody.

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