Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding the Keepers: The Walk

By guest author, Sue Monroe. You can read her bio at the end of this post. This picture is of Emily, Christmas 2001.
Dementia is a long, slow process. As caregivers, we are deeply involved in day-to-day living. Later, it is difficult to remember the good times we enjoyed before the struggle became routine.

I have often heard “we see what we look for.” Now is the time to look for those little nuggets that will become keepers - the lasting good memories of your loved one.

After Mom moved into a nursing home, I most enjoyed our walks around the home on warm Sunday afternoons. She had always been a walker and, although it was a long walk, she loved it.

We were walking early one spring day when I heard her say “That’s pretty.” I knew it wasn't the view she found pretty, because we were facing the home’s maintenance yard.

It must have been the bird singing in the tree above us, so I said, “That does sound pretty. Do you know what kind of bird that is?”

She promptly informed me “No, I don’t know how to read yet. But I’m learning!”

It almost broke my heart because, as an elementary school teacher, she had taught kids to read for over 25 years.

But, I had to smile too. It was the first full sentence I had heard from her in more than two years. I still chuckle when I think of that walk. It is one of my favorite keepers.

What memories are you collecting about your parents? What treasure will you keep with you long after they are gone?

Sue Monroe, the author of the two part series, Finding the Keepers, was caregiver to her mother, Emily Monroe, for six years. After Emily's death in 2004, Sue continued to care for her father until I, her sister, took over his care in September 2006.

Sue now lives in Missouri and enjoys traveling. You can see Sue's work at Red

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