Simple memories

When my husband Richard and I first started discussing whether we should adopt a child 15 years ago Richard joked, “I’ll need someone to come visit me in the rest home.” I immediately told him I was not amused.

Looking back, it’s a bittersweet comment. Sometimes I wonder if he had a sense of what was to come.

Our daughter had only been with us a couple of years when early signs of Richard’s memory loss began to appear. Unfortunately she didn’t get to know her Grandma and Grandpa long either, before their Alzheimer’s and dementia settled in.

But I believe the memories she and I have of the three of them are treasured even more because of the illnesses they’ve endured, and the losses we’ve felt. We value every last detail of the many good days enjoyed with Richard, Mom and Dad. Yet we’ve also accepted the more challenging ones, and the different kind of memories they bring.

With the population of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia expected to grow dramatically the next few years, as well as their caregivers, I hope more families and friends stop to appreciate the memories they’re creating each day. It may be as simple as a shared joke, a shared meal, or a big bear hug.

Keep these simple memories close to your heart, and hold them tight. You won’t want to lose them.

Photography as medicine for stress

I’ve found a direct correlation to the number of pictures I take and my stress level. Yesterday is a perfect example.

I went to visit my husband, Richard, and saw he had a scar above his eyebrow. It’s a nasty one. He’d taken a bad fall. His group home for memory loss called me right away to alert me, but my cell phone wasn’t fully charged so I didn’t immediately get the message.

It appears Richard is fine. He was checked out by a nurse on call right away. I’m glad for that but I know he is starting to fall more, which scares me a lot.

Seeing him dozing in his recliner, looking older than his years made me sad. And so did the scar, knowing how painful it must have been for him when he fell.

After I left, I searched for any beauty I could find from my car window. I found some.

I pulled over, took out my camera and snapped pictures. A whole lot of them.