Turning Remembering into Caring
“I am sitting here now as you doze, not in case you remember me, but because I remember you.” Sitting with Grandma by Gail Rixen, from the book Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude
So many times I sat with my mom in the activity room of the Memory Care Unit, sharing stories of my life. I gazed at her but no longer hoped she would look at me or pay strict attention to my what I was saying. I simply let the flow of words, the depth of our share history and the steadiness of my love for her connect us.
Recently, I was touched by this post written by Michelle Remold in Lori La Bey’s fascinating blog, Alzheimer’s Speaks. Michelle’s story offers another look at the beauty of using remembrances of a shared history as a way to connect.
“We would visit my grandpa every weekend. Even when he slept, we would spend at least an hour sitting with him and would reminisce about things he used to do with us. We would even send him postcards when we went on trips, not so that he would remember us, but to show that we were thinking about him.
I didn’t go visit him in hopes that he would remember me, but instead because I remembered him and visiting was a way to be with him and to relive the moments and create new memories. Even when he no longer knew who I was, I would run to him, take his hand and we would walk together. Even as I got older, whenever I would talk to him, he would smile. I would sit with him and tell him about my week and everything that was going on. There is no doubt in my mind that deep down he knew me although I never was hopeful he would remember my name. I remembered him in a way that would never be replaced.”
“We do not remember days; we remember moments.” ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand
To learn more about Alzheimer’s Speaks, please visit: http://alzheimersspeaks.wordpress.com/
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.
“There is no doubt in my mind that deep down he knew me although I never was hopeful he would remember my name.” This is it, isn’t it, the thing to keep in mind as we sit with our loved ones with advanced dementia. As I write in my book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” I have no doubt that my mother knew I was someone very special to her, someone she loved deeply and who loved her very deeply, even when she could no longer say my name. When so many of us avoid people with dementia because of the stigma that says that they are “no longer here,” it’s important to remember that just showing up, just being there, is key–slowing down enough to see that when you talk to them they are indeed responding in some way–a flick of an eyebrow, a widening of the eyes, a squeeze of the hand, perhaps a smile–and that they are still capable of receiving and giving affection and love. Just “being” with them is enough.
A lovely post there Deborah… xx
The Title fits this whole thing too a tee! YES! Get them to Remember….go way back dig deep you can find them! Carol Carter