Posts Tagged ‘remembering’

As I talk to my mother since my father’s death in mid May, I get a bigger picture of what he was like in the last months before he died. He had Alzheimer’s. I don’t know all that much about the disease, other than what I have seen portrayed in movies and on TV and in novels so some of the things she has told me are surprising to me.

He forgot so many things, but at the end of visits, he would ask when his sons were going to come visit him. he would ask for them by name: Carlos, Richard, and David. All three of his sons preceded him in death, but he forgot. What is interesting to me is that he remembered that he had sons even when he forgot everything else.

He forgot who my mother was. As they sat and talked about their children and their pasts, my father found it funny that they both had 7 children, 3 sons and 4 daughters, and that his kids’ names were the same as her kids’ names. She would try to explain to him that the reason was that his children were also her children but he didn’t get it. He found it funny that they had lived in the same cities and on the same streets and never met!

In the end, he forgot how to speak English. He spoke only Spanish.

And the one thing he never forgot was the name of his children. He remembered all of our names: Carlos, Richard, David, Sylvia, Corina, Irene, and Gilda. Even in the last couple of weeks, when he could barely speak, he was asking for each of us by name and wanting to see us.

In the end, his mind was clear. His memory was back. He knew who my mom was. He knew who my sisters were. And he knew that I could not come to see him because of my illness. I’m glad he knew that much. I would hate it if he had died thinking that I did not want to see him. It’s bad enough that I could not be there. At least he knew and understood that I could not be there.

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I remember Christmas.

I remember the wonder of the season.

I remember my parents leaving us in the evening so they could go shopping for us.

I remember wanting to be extra good so Santa would come and bring presents.

I remember watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman every year and looking forward to it.

I remember decorating the big Christmas tree in the living room and looking at all the lights and the sparkly decorations on it and wanting to keep it forever, even after Christmas.

I remember counting the increasing number of presents under the tree each night and wondering which were for me.

I remember the big package that came in the mail from Grandma in Texas every year…with presents for all of us inside of it.

I remember the Christmas music and learning the words to the songs and singing off key.

I remember making tamales on Christmas Eve.

I remember my birthday cake on Christmas night after dinner.

I remember family.

I remember innocence.

I remember joy.

I remember Christmas.

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I ran out to run an errand this afternoon and on the way back, I drove by the local high school.  Out on their electronic marquee, was a note of condolence and support for the loved ones of 16 year old Ashley Wilks, who was killed by sniper fire at a local underage club last weekend.

I’ve been thinking about her and her school mates.  The high school years are such a difficult time.  Kids walk through their daily lives in pain and some in numbness.  To have something like this happen can send many of them over the edge.  I hope this incident doesn’t destroy any more lives than it already has.

It also made me remember the school mates that I lost while I was in high school.  There were several that didn’t make it through the four years of high school.  My younger sister’s best friend and “honorary brother” was killed one early summer evening a week before school let out for summer.  His name was Greg and he was a freshman.  Greg was the baby of his family and only son.  He had five older sisters.  On that evening, he was on a motor scooter in front of the house.  He hit a pot hole and was thrown into the air, breaking his neck.  The whole neighborhood was watching, including his mother.  He was killed instantly.  When I was a junior, my class lost two on the same day.  Brad and Greg cut school one day and went to Greg’s house to hang out.  Somehow they both ended up being shot when they were playing with Greg’s mom’s gun which she kept to feel safer in a house alone with her children.

One that I won’t forget is Rudy.  Rudy and I shared a last name but were not related.  He hung with the wrong crowd.  I had stayed away from him but one summer we both worked at the high school under the Neighborhood Youth Corps, a program to help low income youth gain job skills.  I worked in the office, doing secretarial work and Rudy worked with the custodian, Howard.  We got to know each other that summer and it turned out that Rudy was a really neat kid.  He was quiet and shy; a follower, not a leader.  Up until that point, he had chosen to follow the wrong crowd.  At the end of summer, I gave him a ring I had been wearing all summer that he had admired often.  It was a little cluster of tiny cow bells.  It kind of jingled as I moved my hand and Rudy liked it.  I took it off the last day of work and gave it to him and made him promise he would be more careful who he hung out with and that he’d come and ask me when he needed help with his school work.  During the school year, we’d run into each other and stop and talk a bit or wave from across the courtyard.  Neither of us cared that we didn’t “belong” to the same group of friends.  We were friends and we kinda looked out for one another.  When I graduated, Rudy was still in school.  He was a year behind me.  Over Labor Day weekend Rudy drowned at one of the local lakes.  He was there with his family on the crowded lake.  It took several days to find his body.

These classmates and others have not been forgotten.  It has been many years; several decades, but they’ve not been forgotten.  They’ve been remembered and missed and thought of often.

I know Ashley Wilks will be missed and thought of and remembered many years from now.

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