22 February 2009

Memories

I had a strange dream a few nights ago about losing my memory. I could see myself in my dream stumbling over my thoughts and my words as I tried to tell a story to someone. I was screaming at myself to remember, and I felt the anger and frustration even after I had woken.

A number of years ago I had met a friend's grandmother who was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. She appeared "normal" enough when she first welcomed us into her house. After she had offered me something to eat a few times even as I had refused every time, I had thought that maybe she was just extremely hospitable, and the type of grandmother who just insisted that a person must eat if they are in her home.

My friend had left me and his grandmother in the living room alone while he went to the basement to talk to his grandmother. As we sat in the living room, his grandmother had started to tell me a story about something and she went into a large living room chest and produced a photo album. She pointed out several photos and then put the album back in the chest. She sat back down and then she started to tell the same story over again. She again went to the chest, retrieved the same photo album, pointed out several photos and again put the album back into the chest. She sat back down, and repeated the same cycle over and over again, and in between asked me several times if I had wanted something to eat. I started to feel sadness and fear in my heart, of what I was not sure, but mercifully, my friend came back upstairs from the basement with his grandfather, and the cycle with his grandmother finally came to an end.

She eventually had to be moved into a home for the elderly as the grandfather was not able to care for her any longer. One time, I accompanied my friend to visit her. Sadly, she no longer remembered her grandson anymore, but kept referring to him as her son (my friend's father).

That was my first experience with Alzheimer's and one that still affects me to this day. I was reminded of it again that night I dreamt of losing my own memory.

I talked to an old friend yesterday on the phone who told me about a coffee pot that I had given him a few years ago. I had forgotten all about it, and although the memory of a coffee pot is quite insignificant, I still felt the fear of losing my memory of even the little pieces in my life. I want to remember it all so that when I am older, I will know how I got to that point and destination in my life, wherever that may be.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” ~ Don Williams, Jr.