Mum would be 82 years old today, February 3rd. She comes to my mind most days but I’ll think about her more today, of course. In fact, I’ve thought a lot about our relationship a lot recently. A friend at work is finding life quite a challenge at the moment. Both her parents are living with dementia and although our stories are different, some bells ring when we talk.
Someone asked me recently how I thought about Mum now. What is the image which comes to mind? In truth, I think of two people – the one in the photo above and the one in the photo below, taken two years ago on her 80th birthday:
But it isn’t two people, it’s two relationships, both rich but different – one which lasted for more than 40 years, in which I was cared for at the start; and another, which began when Mum was diagnosed 10 years ago, in which I was the carer. In Mum’s last few years, it became harder and harder to focus on the first relationship. There were good times and lovely memories from the closing years but it was different – it had to be. But since she died, I’m finding it easier to think of both relationships, both Mums. And those memories are very precious.
On Friday, I’m going to the funeral of a dear family friend whose life, latterly, was touched by dementia. John and his wife Margaret lived next door to Mum and Dad for a relatively short but very convivial time. I’ll take with me the happiest of memories of times our families spent together. After Mum’s diagnosis I took her on holiday to Pembrokeshire and we visited them. Although I couldn’t be sure Mum remembered them, she knew she was in the presence of loving friends.
I hadn’t seen John for nearly two years but I know that life became more difficult in the closing months. But dementia didn’t define John in the way it never defined Mum. Friendship and memories endure.