The one good thing, if there is such a thing, about having Early-Onset Alzheimer’s is the long term memories are still intact. They pop up at any time, day or night, with no rhyme or reason. They are just there like an old friend, ready to reminisce and bring a smile.
At 55 years old, I have a lot of memories floating around in my head. Being it’s the Christmas season, those memories are of growing up with my brothers and sister, racing to the Christmas Tree on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. I’ll never forget my first transistor radio. 1968. It was red with a black, leather covering. I asked my brothers what station I should listen to, they told me and the first song I heard was “Sky Pilot” by The Animals.
My Mom tried to suggest I listen to talk radio. lol I stuck with the music!
A few years later, I got a green bike with green, metallic banana seat. It seems all the kids in the neighborhood got new bikes that year and despite the cold wet weather, we had to go outside and ride them.
Another year was walkie-talkies.
I remember my favorite toy of all time…a milk truck. When the door opened, a milkman swung out holding a bottle of milk. It was made of cast iron. My sister, whom I love and adore with all my heart, sort of bent my milk truck. I won’t say how, but the little milkman never swung out the door again! 😦
Then there was the Christmas, once we were older, my oldest brother got us all silk underwear. We still don’t know why, but it was a great gift!!!!
After a number of years, I started gaining weight . . . a lot of weight, enough to take on the role of playing Santa Claus. That was a lot of fun but putting on that Santa suit in the humid Louisiana December weather was no picnic. I lost about 10 lbs inside that suit. 🙂
My Mom loved the Christmas Season and she made it so special. Right after Thanksgiving (you remember when there were no Christmas decorations
displayed BEFORE Thanksgiving)
she would start playing her Christmas albums, singing along with Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gourme, as my Dad climbed up in the attic, cursing, yelling, hitting his head while getting the Christmas decorations down.
On Christmas Day, Mom would break out the “once a year Christmas China.” She had just enough for the adults while the kids ate at the kids table, eating off the everyday plastic plates. I felt so grown up when I was not only allowed to eat off the Christmas China but to sit at the grown-up table. The food actually tasted better! But, enough about me.
We have a saying in our family that no holiday or family get-together was complete unless my Dad (who was known for his temper) didn’t get pissed off at someone or something.
One Christmas, I don’t remember the exact year, but it was probably in the 80’s, my Dad, as usual, got pissed off at something. One by one, my brothers (I have 3) their wives and my sister all headed for the smoking spot (the front porch) to have our “after dinner smoke.” Of course, the topic of conversation turned to the times Dad would get pissed off. We laughed and laughed and were having the best time when the front door opened and my Mom came outside. We all quieted down and looked at her. She looked at all of us with such a serious look on her face and said, “I sure wish I smoked, but I gotta go back in there!”
We lost it. She started laughing. As she walked back inside, she turned around and said, “oh sure, y’all just stay out here and laugh!” with a smirk on her face, which made us laugh even harder. That was my Mom.
She had such a great sense of humor. I guess she had to, being a stay-at-home Mom, having 5 kids in a 10-year span. She had to find the humor in anything she could. In my opinion, she loved Christmas the most. She knew the family would all be together and she would fix our favorite things. She got joy out of that.
Although Alzheimer’s affected her memories and all else that came with it over the last 10-15 years of her life, I hope some of her long-term memories were still there. I hope they brought a smile and a warmth to her heart.
Being the youngest child, my Mom and I shared a lot of things. Music is my favorite . . . Alzheimer’s is my least favorite, but I like to think that my Mom, being my Mom, somehow knew I would be the one to share her Alzheimer’s so she showed me how to live with it gracefully. When it gets tough, and it does (I’m not always the happy person you see in pictures and unfortunately, I do have a bit of my Dad in me that comes out every once in a while) I feel her with me, calming me down.
My Mom also collected bells, little decorative bells, some bigger bells, she just liked them.
Thanks to my wife, the bells continue to ring. Since we have a love for
Disney, she combined our interests and gets Disney Bells every year for the tree. I can’t tell you what that means to me. I hope that tradition continues within my family for years to come.
This will be the first Christmas Mom will not be of this earth. My Dad passed away 5 years ago so at least they are together again. I just hope he has learned to calm down a bit. But if not, I’m sure Mom will take a walk out to the front porch, breathe in a breath of fresh air and go right back in to calm him down.
Merry Christmas, Mom . . . and you too Dad! 🙂
This is from one of my Mom’s Christmas albums:
Doris Day – Silver Bells
ENJOY and have a Very, Merry Christmas!