Then there are the goodbyes that influence our lives, sometimes bringing joy in its semblance as a new beginning. Sometimes its connotations are darker, the ending of someone cherished. These goodbyes are so very personal, so life altering in the details of emotions and memories they confer.
This has been our hardest goodbye, our longest……made non the easier for its length. Our sorrow and grief extended over years as we watch dementia take our precious mom from us day by day.
Our memories of mom…..hunting at the ‘rock’. Shooting the 6x6 that was displayed proudly on her living room wall for years. Our vibrant mom, whose laugh was so very contagious, giggling like a young maiden, blushing over her first dance. The Ann who cooked such huge meals, determined to feed the world every holiday. So child like in her pleasures, as she proclaimed each and every precious pet chicken’s egg laying accomplishments. Our mom who would sit quietly knitting or crocheting endlessly. We called her our walking family tree, how she could recite the lineage of all branches with ease. Our camera queen, with endless photographs of…..everything. Able to tell stories of each and everyone with pride.
Slowly our memories became our lifeline to the mom we knew as she slowly became lost in her dementia. How cherished each memory became, making us miss her even more, as she became someone else, someone we didn’t know. Her cognitive moments became less and less as we lost her slowly through the years. Her gradual descent into madness changed her joyful smile to tears of loss as each day she relived her grief.
So tonight we said goodbye one last time, as we brushed mom’s hair and dressed her in her favorite housecoat. Washing her face gently through our tears. Our sorrow just as strong, even as relief fills us. And we pray that mom finds the peace in death, that dementia stole from her in this life……our longest goodbye.
Ann C Shelt
March 25. 1935 - August 7th 2016