When Memory Fails

In the quiet times of day, and often in the middle of the night, I remember my dad. He has been gone for more than 30 years, but I still have conversations with him. I tell him about his grandchildren and share how much I miss him. I imagine what he is doing in heaven (painting or tending a garden, no doubt) and I trust with all my heart that I will see him again one day.

The memories of my father are even more important to me now, especially since my brother and I are the only ones who can recall them. Our mom suffers from dementia and she lost all recollection of our dad, “Freddie” as she called him, a few years ago. I remember so vividly how it felt like a stab to the heart when I was showing her my wedding album one afternoon and she pointed to my dad and asked, “Who is this?” It seemed like all the air was sucked out of the room. When I recovered, I took the time to share all my memories of that special day, always searching her face for a glimmer of recognition. But there was none.

Trying to keep a memory alive when there is no capacity to store them is a painful thing. Sometimes I find myself reaching deep inside my mind to retrieve certain memories,  and the fear of losing those precious moments gives me an overwhelming urgency to share them.  A windy day at the beach. A camping trip in New Hampshire. A favorite board game. A family vacation. We talk about these memories whenever we are all together and we share the stories and pictures and random details that come to mind. For my brother and I, we understand that it may mean nothing to our mother, but for us, it is a crucial bridge in keeping Dad’s legacy alive.

And so, on this and every Father’s Day, Daddy.  you are forever in our memories and buried deep in our hearts.

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