My sister and I are traveling to visit our aunt, the last remaining relative on our mom's side. My aunt is like a big kid. She never got the memo telling her to act her age. For her it's fun to have fun.
As a child, she was rambunctious, and her parents sent her to a Catholic boarding school for a year. But she continually angered the nuns—following their strict rules didn't work out so well. She just couldn't sit still—and eventually she stopped trying.
To call her accident prone would be mild. From being kicked in the head by her horse, to flipping her car off an overpass on the San Francisco freeway, she's had her share of broken bones and bruises. But that just gave her stories to tell. Which she loved re-telling. And laughing as often as she could.
Helping others enjoy life has been her passion. After a decade in college she earned a doctoral degree in Recreation. Mom always said she was an expert at fun and games. But kids flocked to her—her silly songs and the games she created were legendary. After working with kids, came her years in the prison—using recreation as a way to help rehabilitate lives.
But for most of her career, she taught college students how to develop programs to keep people active. She was always on the move. Until recently.
A few years ago, she was diagnosed with Cognitive Memory Disorder (CMD). This is a gradual slide towards dementia. Her CMD is making it hard to distinguish truth from fiction. She'll dream something, wake up, and it becomes real. She'll forget to eat or sometimes she'll just finish eating and wonder why the meal isn't ready yet.
She's fighting a mind game she'll eventual lose, and sometimes she lashes out at those closest to her. This isn't really who she is. But it's who she's becoming. So, for caregivers of those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, you have my respect.
Priest Lake is the place closest to her heart. As a child she fell in love with the Idaho wilderness and the cabin she calls home. The memories come easier here. Sis and I treasure Priest Lake for our childhood memories too. It's ironic that the place close to our hearts is also the place that is breaking our hearts—for we are letting go of what we cannot hold onto.
But that's true for us all—we cannot keep things the same. For me, it just took some cognitive memory disorder to remind me. Even as I let go of today, I have the love from a thousand yesterdays to hold onto.