Day 120 – Mental Health

My mom and dad put together over two dozen notebooks of pictures covering their entire lives. I’ve never actually been through them all, but my kids, especially my girls would pour through them during visits to grandma and grandpa So I’ve always wanted to capture them digitally before they got lost in someones closet.

This July, while taking care of mom prior to Justin’s wedding I thought it would be a good time to start scanning them. Mom removed and re-inserted the pages from the plastic for me and talked about what she remembered, it was a great time with her. When we reached the graduation and other high school pictures of my older brothers, there were several pages on each covering their high school/college/Air Force years, the same for my younger siblings. But on my single page, spanning the eight years of my high school and college years, two pictures. Several other general pictures from the time period fill out my page. Ouch, visual confirmation of what I’d felt during that time period.

Following my younger sibling’s pages are pictures of the strays my parents took in during my high school and college years. They were both extroverts, gregarious, fun to be around, the child they really wanted.

I was surprised when mom asked for the first time if the time and attention they gave to others bothered me. My first answer was “It’s OK”, continuing to hold in five decades of pain. Fortunately, mom’s dementia caused her to ask me the same question six times again over the next hour, as fresh to her as the first time. And I tried out a new answer each time. Answer number six: “Yes mom, it really hurt”. She apologized, talked about why and how it happened, then she forgot again, and I cried.

I may have mentioned at the beginning of this journey the thought of changing my name. And now you know why. David, means beloved, but has always felt like a cruel joke, a constant reminder of the pain I felt during that time.

However, that brief exchange with mom this summer was amazingly therapeutic, I needed that, it has helped immeasurably. I’m glad we had that conversation before she is gone. And I take comfort in the fact that she remembers nothing.

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