Sunday, February 5, 2012

Different Kinds of Memory

I'm dealing with my mother who is downward spiraling into dementia/Alzheimer's. For Mom it is all about memories.

She remembers working at the lake during the summer while in college. Ask her and she can tell you the name of the lady who used to live down the street--and her dog's name. Mom can recall her chili recipe by heart--just not swallow the food.

We're back to the basics, again. After a medical crisis, she now needs to relearn how to sit up, swallow, and eat. We have to cue her to hold a spoon. Oddly enough all these actions that used to come automatically are stored in our memory locker and when we lose the combo we've no longer access to the contents.

So as someone who teaches memoir, don't take for granted the small things, This is especially important for when crafting flash memoir. For Proust it was cookies.

Today try to recall a simple pleasure. Is it enjoying a cigarette on the fire escape, hot dog Saturdays, a walk to the lake, or opening mail (not junk mail, but a real letter or card)?

That one  pleasure might link you to others and before long you have unleashed a chain of memories. I just wish Mom could remember to swallow--even as she looks at me and says, "I think I'll have a glass of wine."

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