Make Memories While You Can

me-mum

The dementia avalanche is coming. Or is it already here? I forget. Whatever, one in every three OAPs dies with dementia and there isn’t any cure, just the slow but sure whittling away of who they once were in live slow-motion. As someone with a history of dementia in my family it strikes me that with such odds against us, now is the time to lay down some enduring, fantastic memories while we can still enjoy them…

My mum has alzheimer’s. It’s not at an advanced stage yet, but I know that one day it will be. One day, she won’t know who I am, who she is or how she got here: her memory card will have been wiped forever. It’s an odd thought. For now though she’s still taking on the world with gentle gusto.

Memory is a hard construct to pin down. It floats on the breeze, sometimes settling where you want it but often getting snagged in the periphery of your eyeline, just out of sight. Take childhood. Many of us like to chirp on about it, but what do you really remember? For me it goes something like this: got runover, ate ice cream, saw Grease, played swingball, went bowling quite a lot. My first eleven years in a nutshell. Such memories.

My teens were forgettable, my 20s whizzed by in a blur of wine, women & song. But it’s only now we understand the importance of time and how quickly it slips by once you get the hang of it that the primacy of making memories hovers sharply into view. Making and holding onto memories matters.

Because life is all about experiences and memories. That amazing wedding you went to. That day you were made redundant. That weekend with your best friends in the sun. That dinner you cooked for your parents. That funeral where you raised a glass to your departed cousin. Remember that? Those memories shape your life and your behaviour in years to come. Without them, you’re simply not you.

My mum’s had her memory scrapbook shredded and years of her life are no longer there. She, along with millions of others like her can no longer make new memories. This year, she won’t remember the weddings of two of her daughters or her own 60th wedding anniversary. It’ll be up to us to fill in the blanks as much as we can.

So if you can still lay down memories, it’s up to you to make the most of your ability while you still have it and enjoy the memories while you can. Record them, write them down, look back on them and savour them. Because they might not be around forever.

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2 thoughts on “Make Memories While You Can”

  1. Nicely said Clare. You have a great attitude and your mum is lucky to have you as there are so many adult children who have a hard time accepting and embracing ageing parents…and seeing the positive aspects of an otherwise frightening chapter. I know I will have a hard time. A 104 year old I knew used to lie there and look like she was doing nothing. When I would ask her what she was thinking about she would say, “looking through the old tapes…” and she always spoke about the importance of making memories so you can savour them later. But it is very sad to think about not having access to these memories one day. Another good reason as you say to live in the moment. Have you done some interviews with your mum yet? This is something I am trying to work on with my family is doing some oral history recordings. I don’t think it is the history as much as the sound of the voice and the little phrases that are most precious to capture. It is so easy for everyone to do now that we have iphones etc with good recording quality on them.

  2. Thanks Holly. I did oral history interviews with both my parents before my mum’s diagnosis so I have that covered. Great to have so I’d encourage you to do yours too.

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