Having a conversation with an elderly loved one about their life can be a rewarding experience for both the storyteller and the listener. I consider myself very fortunate to spend time with my 91-year-old mother who still drives, loves to travel, and frequently participates in a water aerobics class. After living in Texas for 27 years, I returned to central Illinois and embarked on a personal mission to learn more about my mother’s life, the places visited, the people met, and the memories made.
One of my favorite stories is about a picture of her she gave my father when they were dating, but …
not yet married. Thus, this picture was taken around 1948 or 1949.
It was Christmas Day 1963 and my entire family was celebrating at our grandparents’ house with our aunts, uncles and cousins. What started as a day of food, fun and laughter quickly turned to one of tears and commotion when we received a call informing us our house was on fire! I was only 8 years old at the time and my 7 siblings ranged in age from 12 years to 5 weeks.
Our grandparents’ house was approximately 45 minutes away and the fire started in the basement. The back of the house was on fire when my father and several uncles arrived. The story told over the years was my father ran in the front door and grabbed my mother’s picture hanging on the living room wall next to ‘his chair’.
Although my father is deceased, this picture still hangs in their bedroom. And when we celebrated our mother’s 90th birthday last August, this picture was the only one displayed at her open house birthday party.
What memories have you shared with your loved ones? Have you missed the opportunity to learn about an important event in their life? Has an illness such as Alzheimer’s or dementia erased those memories which are now lost forever?