Where Is She?

“She isn’t the sister I knew,” my husband says when he returns from driving his sister, Mary Ellen, home last Thursday after lunch.

I don’t know what to say. I understand his meaning but I still don’t know what to say.

This is the second sibling I have heard him make this comment about, the other a brother who died almost three years ago.

“As long as you can remember the good times, the days in Outlook, Mary Ellen seems to have good recall.” I tried to encourage him. In fact it had happened over lunch.

When Bob arrived to pick Mary Ellen up and bring her to our home, she asked her now routine question, “Have you been here before?”

And the answer is always yes as one of us visits weekly, if not more. Since her assisted living community is only eight blocks away, we often make it our daily walk to visit.

But her short-term memory has lost its bearings.

We visit for a time and then lunch is calling us. It is our first time to sit just the three of us around the table as Mary Ellen’s husband died a couple of months ago, and her move near us and a nephew is fairly new. We join hands for grace. Her skin has the feel of thin paper, and her hands are cold. It’s in the upper 80s outside.

We chat amiably while eating. Mary Ellen jokes about her memory being unreliable, and we commiserate with her that ours isn’t much better some days.

Bob thinks of an announcement he recently received from their grade school in Outlook, WA, a tiny space in the road in the Yakima Valley. He mentions the name of the woman who sent it and with whom he has talked. He asks Mary Ellen if she remembers this woman from their grade school days.

She looks up and furrows her brow and says she doesn’t, her now nearly gone eyesight trying to focus on him.

And then she says, “There was a Dorothy Ross in Outlook.”

Yes, this was the woman Bob was talking about but he had used her married name and couldn’t think of her maiden name.

That recalled memory is from decades ago, but our visits with Mary Ellen recently have only been in the last two months. She doesn’t remember us visiting or others calling or coming by.

We sit later that day talking about family and memories. Bob and I know with certainty that we too are growing older daily and our memories aren’t always as sharp as they used to be. We encourage our children to slow down, make treasured memories, memories that will last, and write them down for future generations to read and share on and on.

Otherwise, a family’s legacy can be lost in time and age.

Doris Lessing quote on legacy

Quote by Doris Lessing via Brainy Quote

What are you doing to keep your family’s legacy? Your faith journey? Your childhood memories? Don’t miss the opportunity to pass this history along to future generations.

Today I’m linking up with:

Kelli Woolford at Unforced Rhythms
Joan Davis at Sharing His Beauty

and on Wednesday with:

Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory

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14 thoughts on “Where Is She?

  1. Oh, I remember these kinds of conversations so well that I had with my mother. 😦 She could remember things from long ago, but not that I was with her just yesterday. It makes me afraid that I’ll get Alzheimer’s myself one day. I have to turn that fear over to the Lord, but it’s difficult….

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    • Fear of losing one’s memory is something a lot of us experience. I know my husband likely thinks of his brother who died about three years ago of Lewy body dementia, a close second to Alzheimer’s in its rate of occurrence. Watching the changes in a family member would definitely leave this dread. Turning our fears over to the Lord is hard for us mere mortals but try we must. I pray that you can give this one up to Him. Thanks for stopping and sharing your experience with me.

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  2. A hard and tender and honest story about age and watching ones we love lose parts of themselves and holding onto the things that can too easily slip away, if we let them. Your last words, a gentle caution, ring so poignant: ” a family’s legacy can be lost in time and age.” I don’t know, honestly, how we’re preserving our family legacy as a whole. But I like to think that in some way, my writing is a preservation. Thank you for joining your story with UR.

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    • Amber, your comments are always gracious and encouraging. I strongly believe that your writing will preserve something of your family’s legacy, whether it is published or goes unpublished just to share with family. Spreading our stories among our family members is so important. My SIL has always been the keeper of our Meyer family genealogy. Now I don’t know if she evens remembers researching and preparing it. As an in-law, I have always cherished Meyer family gatherings because there was always storytelling seasoned with laughter and some tears as the siblings remembered their growing up days. That is fading away. I will be posting on my writing blog later in the week a more in-depth look at the ease of losing family legacy. Maybe you’ll choose to visit me there (there’s a link below in the footer).

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    • Dolly, you always provide the salve to help our wounded hearts when we bare them on our blogs. God chose you to be the angel in our midst. Felt your hugs most definitely! 🙂

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    • DementedGirl, thank you for stopping by and leading me to your poem. It shares volumes of truth and goodness. What a loving project you undertook for your MIL! And I understand about not being able to share my faith … it’s not meant for all of us to be able to do that. Again, thanks for stopping by and providing the link.

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    • Lisa, you have shared so beautifully about your reading mother. What a lovely and worthy example she set before you and yes, a book club in those days was a rare thing! Such a treasure to have heard your mother speak and articulate her thoughts and feelings about the things she read. You are a blessed young woman. My mother thought reading a waste of time as it was a nonproductive activity. Thank God for my father who felt differently and fostered my reading. Your blog is lovely and I hope you continue to write your history. Your writing style is genuine and begs the reader to continue on … just what your history deserves.

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  3. This brings back memories of time spent with my mom (dementia) and aunt (Alzheimer’s) in the years before God took them home. How wonderful that you give her the gift of such time & attention. I enjoyed the story of your name that you shared at Doorkeeper & your review of Ann Gabhart’s book. I’m going to check that one out! Blessings!

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    • Renee, thanks for visiting and leaving such encouraging words on this post. We all travel a similar journey at various points in time, some more difficult than others perhaps, but we can share our empathy one for the other. Glad you enjoyed the naming story and my review of Ann Gabhart’s book. Blessings back to you!

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