I miss you. I miss you very much.
I have such loving memories of you. The way you were always so smartly dressed, the twin cardigans and knitted tops, the pearls, the dainty watches. I remember seeing you on Wednesday’s after your weekly visit to the hairdresser with your friend. I remember your desire for me to always wear my hair up and to not marry a man with long hair (I do, mostly and I didn’t) I loved staying with you when I was at boarding school when my parents lived overseas. I loved the chopped and peeled apple you would give me as a snack, the odd Kit Kat snuck in there in the evening. The small money tube you had in the kitchen cupboard that would fund my sweet habit when we went to the shops. The fact you always smelled of mints and there was a draw in the dining room that was the only draw that seemed ‘messy’ with your gloves and your tissues (which you would always tuck in your sleeve) and your mints! I would sit by the draw and smell the mints, the smell I associate so much with you even today.
I remember visiting you (every other Sunday) and arguing with my sister about who would ring the bell and you would answer every time and say ‘Not today thank you’ and we would laugh and rush through the warmth of the hallway. I remember every single ornament on your hallway shelf, the order and the detail. I remember sitting in the back of the car, driving away and seeing you and Grandad standing in the porch waving. My sister and I would wave with a ferociousness till long after we had turned the corner.
I remember your dressing table, with your mirror, your brush and your powder compact just waiting for small hands to play with, the simple of act of getting ready was made so graceful by your art.
I remember you trying to teach me to knit, your loving efforts always resulted in scarves, they would start of wide and end very narrow as I dropped stitches and made it up as I went along, you never criticised, you never told me it was wrong.
I remember staying with you one weekend and coming down one morning to discover my ripped jeans (hours were spent perfecting the shredded rips in those jeans) now neatly covered in floral patches, your kindness to keep my knees warm had proceeded a fashion statement after your time. My horror and embarrassment of returning to school with my patched jeans was buried over for my love for you.
I remember coming home from university to see you in my parents lounge and having a conversation with you which revolved around what I was studying at university, again and again and again, my frustration building that you were unable to remember or register my current social status of study. I remember visiting your home, a place I sought sanctuary in, a place of warmth and childhood comfort, and seeing a noticeboard with the days of the week and the date written on, like one would see at a primary school. A reminder to you, a message to us.
I remember attending my cousins wedding, and painting your nails (your nails always looked so graceful) and seeing the distance in your eyes, the look of slight fear and distrust of the young woman painting your nails but then you were back, touching my face, telling me how lovely I was.
I remember so many things and I am scared of losing those memories as I get older. I am scared of not passing your memory down to my children, your great grandchildren, I am scared of relegating you to a photo on a mantle place. I wish I had understood how scared you must of felt, I wish I did more.
I wish I had known more about Dementia, what it meant, what it did. I wish I could of understood you more instead of being self consumed in my new found adult life and freedom at college. I wish your later years were being spent playing with your Great Grand children, knitting for them, receiving handmade cards and being fussed over as you creep towards 100, instead of living in a home being cared for.
I miss you, more now than I ever did.
Dementia kills more people than any other disease it has been confirmed today, more than heart disease and cancer. We don’t know why it strikes people, much like cancer we can’t out play it, we can’t learn the rules. It creeps up on us, it is mistaken, it hides, it shows, it breaks hearts and then it is too late. It is a painful slow death that is not fair and much like cancer, we fear it.
I want to remember in years to come that I tried to do something to help.
I am putting this out there as a promise to myself to raise awareness to support and to honour the people for whom dementia has so affected so deeply.