Memories: Fresh and fading

By: Joe Weaver - Contributing columnist

There are times when I walk into a room for something and instantly forget why I went into the room and what I went in the room for. It has happened to all of us. For some of us of certain ages, it happens more frequently than not, but it’s okay. Usually for me, it’s something trivial and not important. I have never left the oven on or an iron out where the cat can get burned or anything like that. Most of the time, I went in the other room to get a bottle of water or my glasses or my cellphone and forgot what I went in for. I once went into the bedroom to get my glasses only to discover I was already wearing them. It’s kinda funny sometimes and aggravating other times.

Memory, in my opinion, is the greatest possession one person can have. Memory is chock full of good times and joy, but equally filled with sadness and melancholy to provide a balance. I enjoy remembering a rather wonderful Christmas from my childhood or the warmth and softness of the first girl’s hand I held. While I don’t enjoy remembering the death of my grandfather, I understand it helps to provide kind of a yin and yang, keeping everything even. A month or so ago, I spent a rainy hour at the grave of my late sister. Sure, she was no longer with us, but it was a week after her birthday and just before Christmas, so I got to spend a little time with her. It’s those kinds of memories that are rich with emotion of all sorts.

Occasionally, my wife and I will bump into someone in Walmart and I won’t recall who they are. My wife will whisper to me as they approach.

“That’s Jack. We met him last year at so-and-so’s cookout. You and he talked about shotguns.”

She remembers everyone and I apparently don’t. We meet a lot of people and I try my best to put names and faces together and sometimes I just can’t. I’m fortunate that my wife remembers most everyone and everything.

I’ve mentioned my grandmother a few times in this column. She enjoys the column as much as one or two of you do and we print them out each year for Christmas and put them in a binder for her. It was no different this Christmas. A week or so before Christmas, my wife called my grandmother to let her know we were looking forward to seeing her soon. My grandmother was confused and was talking nonsense. She mentioned a few times that my father was coming to take her home, apparently not understanding that she was home. She lives independently in a senior living facility. As the conversation continued, my grandmother was polite and friendly, but clearly had no idea what my wife was talking about. We reached out to my father and his siblings and clearly something was amiss. At different times, each of us had experienced a moment with Grandmom where she had a memory lapse. We agreed to make Christmas as “normal” as possible.

Christmas was a little awkward, but as close as a Christmas would have been under better circumstances. The food, prepared by my uncles, was the same as she would have prepared. Grandmom had thought it was catered. She did not remember it was Christmas. There were no decorations or gifts. We all gathered as normal and enjoyed our time. Grandmom recognized our daughter, but when our daughter presented her with a framed photograph of her high school senior portrait, Grandmom did not recognize the girl in the picture. She understood that another photo of my sister and her son was family, because it said “family” on the frame, but she didn’t know who the people were.

This is the beginning of a new journey for Grandmom. We have gotten word that she has figured out that something is going on with her memory and she is trying to organize her life around it. My uncles and father are checking in on her and making sure she gets the care she needs. I know how frustrating it can be to forget a stranger’s name. I have no idea what it feels like to begin forgetting everyone.

As mentioned above, my grandmother enjoys the column. This one is for her. While her memory fades, ours can pick up the slack. While she may have occasional difficulty remembering us, we remember her. We can share our memories with her and when hers have ebbed, our memories will become hers.

Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.

Joe Weaver

Contributing columnist