Monday, February 08, 2021

Packing Memories For Mom

 Today we packed things for Mom's move.

The list of furniture is straightforward:  a bed, a bedside table, a chair, something to put a television on.  Items easily placed into the back of the truck my father has driven for years. 

We swapped the bed that she has slept in for years - the frame that they have had literally as long as I can remember - for one that has been in another bedroom.  She asked us several times where the bed was going; we simply said we were taking it to have something fixed on it and would have it back to her soon.  She eventually decided that everything was okay, but still occasionally asked about the other empty bedroom until we closed the door, thus effectively making the issue disappear.

This, frankly, was the easy part.

My sister went about gathering the known things she would need:  clothing, sheets, towels, toiletries.  She also had the difficult task of choosing personal items.

The facility had certain suggestions:  not too many photographs, some memorabilia from her life, a few things that will remind her of home.

How do you decide?

How do you take the totality of items of a life long lived and boil it down, not just to items that might be essential, but to items which you think might actually having meaning to someone whose memory is failing?  How do you choose?  Is it based on familiarity, on things you think that they will remember, or something that you have heard them express delight in that you yourself have no memory or connection to?  I understand, of course, that this is not something that cannot easily be rectified - we can take something down within the day - but based on her memory,  who knows that this items are what we think they are or retain what we think they will?

My sister did a far better job than I could have, I think:  small things from her teaching career, a jewelry box adorned with the poppies she loves, pictures of her immediate family and parents (who, frankly, she often recognizes on sight more than us).  It all rests now, the furniture laden truck a sentry in a February that is strangely sunny now, the filled bins split between the Ranch and my sister's.  The packed up memories of a life, compressed to the equivalent of a small pick-up truckload of items.

We always say that creating memories is more important, more important than the things that fill our life.  But what happens when those memories fade, becoming ghosts in our mind which flit in and out at their own convenience, leaving us nothing but ash to grasp at?  


12 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:55 AM

    The photo album is a wise choice. It is nice to be able to make a connection with the voice on a phone call or a personal visit.

    I hope the move is a smooth transition for your Mom. Our prayers are with you.

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    1. Thank you Anonymous. They said some pictures but not too many, and older may be better as that is often who they remember the longest.

      We moved her stuff in today. It is a very nice corner room that has easy access for visiting.

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  2. That’s a no-win situation, TB. All you can do is your best... and it sounds like you guys are doing pretty darn good.

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    1. I hope so Glen. It is not as if she remembers something specifically we cannot bring it down to her. I would just like her to go there and have it seem as much like "home" as possible.

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  3. Losing my memories, at least gradually, has always been a big fear of mine. Big enough, that it brought me some pleasure that I wouldn't have to watch my mom go through it since she was going to die well before that could happen. Now that she is gone, I realize that her memories are mine now to cultivate and pass on hopefully to my children who may pass on some of them again someday.

    Such a tough situation to be in. Thinking of your family.

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    1. Ed, it is one of my fears as well. This is not something that is really known in my family. Seeing it is a terrible thing. The thought of being potentially the sole living bearer of some memories is a daunting thing.

      Thank you for your thoughts. In spite of my concerns and fears and feelings that we are not doing all that we can, I am sure that we are.

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  4. I hurt for you. And I'm praying for you. You and your sister are doing the hard part of living right now. I have no doubt you are doing it well, and honoring your mom. No one can ask for more.

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    1. Thank you very much STxAR. In an odd way, my mother, by her kindess and her care for her own parents, prepared us for this day. Hopefully we will acquit ourselves well in the grand scheme of things.

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  5. I have no words but everyone above said it all - you and your sister are doing your best and my prayer is that may God bless you and be with you both.
    ~hobo

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    1. Thank you Hobo. This is nothing that anything else is life really prepares you for.

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  6. I wish I could say something that would help you out a little, but words fail me. This is very likely the hardest period of your life, and no one has prepared you for it or given you any ideas on how to handle it. You just get up every morning and you do the best you can.

    Just from reading your blog, I'd say you and yours were doing well - better than most people could.

    I'll pray for you and your family, and the Lord will take care of you and help you along.

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    1. Thank you WL, much appreciated.

      You are right, there is no real guidance for this, nothing except going through it and relying - really - on the advice of the places you are looking at. Hopefully, in some small way, my writings can fill that void for somebody.


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