It’s Mum’s birthday. Or at least it would have been. It’s 12 months since that photograph was taken to celebrate Mum’s birthday, her 80th and her last. The final decline started soon after and she left us a little over three months later.
Today, I’m remembering birthdays past. The first after she’d moved to The Firs Care Home when my sister arranged for all to gather for lunch in a village nearby. Mum wasn’t sure what was going on. Even then, the concept of opening presents was a thing of the past. Back further to Mum’s 70th birthday at which friends old and news gathered. Her present was a series a family photographs, precious, precious reminders of the time before her life began to unravel.
Back further to a birthday in the late 1970s with a new fondue set. I think Dad had won it in a raffle but we felt we were living the high life. Mum conjured up four home made sauces – she loved a culinary challenge – and I failed to get the hang on keeping my cube of steak attached to my fondue fork while it sizzled gently.
Memories, so very important. These are the images of Mum imprinted on my mind, before and after dementia came into our lives. Through my association with the Alzheimer’s Society, I meet people whose dementia journeys are beginning. (Everything, it seems, can be described as “a journey” these days but I think the term is highly appropriate in this case). Every day, people take their first steps, perhaps afraid, perhaps uncomprehending, perhaps relieved that “it” now has a name.
Mum placed herself in the third category and, in the early days, was very open about her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Time passed and Mum could articulate less about her situation, but she was still there and the joy of spending time with her remained. I have many happy memories of the closing chapters – one is captured by the photo at the top.
Happy birthday Mum. I miss you today. I’ll always miss you, but I’ll always have those memories.