Memories are a funny thing and we take them for granted but recently I’ve been realising how important they are and how much time I spend relieving the best parts of my life in my head.
All my life Saturday afternoons have been spent visiting my Nan and Grandad and I enjoy getting to spend that time with them. As they get older I can’t help but wonder how many more Saturday afternoons we will have together and how many of the little things we do together will become the big things in the future that I miss.
Because it is always the little things you overlook at the time that become the big things you miss when they’re gone.
I have so many memories of my life I relieve to keep them alive because they are so important to me, they aren’t all good memories but even the bad ones are remembered for the lessons they taught me.
There is so much of my life I don’t remember and wish I did, yet I remember so much useless stuff from all the jobs I ever had. Its one of the reasons I take a lot of photos so I can look back and see where I went and what I did.
But the reason I’ve been thinking about memories so much lately is over the last few months my Saturday afternoons are revealing to me how important it is to keep your mind healthy. Because every week I see my Nan lose a little bit more of her mind.
We laugh at the silly things she says and how she gets stuck on a loop but in the last two months it has got so much worse that all I do now is worry. It scares me that she will go out and get lost or leave the gas on or hurt herself.
I feel sorry for my Grandad too because he is left with her all day everyday and her increasingly erratic behaviour and I know it drives him mad and seeing us is the highlight of his week but I wish I could do better. It’s the reason I take him to football when I can so he gets a couple of hours break from her. But in truth a part of me is wondering if she is ok at home alone.
This week was a tough one for me my brother would have turned 30 on Thursday and I always find this time of the year tough but when it is a milestone birthday it is worse.
I knew it had passed midnight and his birthday had begun as I began to cry uncontrollably and looked at the clock to see the date had changed, and as always he was the first thought in my mind. I called up his songs on you tube and sat watching through tear filled eyes hearing him laughing and feeling the weight of him standing on my feet as I danced around the room with him.
I had a football made of flowers for him and sat for hours tending to the flowers on his grave and playing him his favourite songs on my iPod. I sat and told him all about the things that are happening in my life right now and how much I’m missing someone I care about and how I wish I could make things right between us. Then I told him about all the things I remember about him, it was draining laughing and crying at the same time but I needed to do it.
Even though it was 30 years ago I still remember the first time I saw him in the hospital on the day he was born. I remember seeing him after his operation, the first time he said my name properly, the first time he went down the slide on his own and teaching him to walk.
One of my happiest memories of him is the first time he saw snow, he sat in his chair by the window watching the snow falling and screaming in excitement. I remember my Mum getting him dressed into his snow suit and going out to the front garden to clear the path but he wouldn’t come outside. He sat by the front door all dressed up, watching us but wouldn’t come outside.
I grabbed his hand and lead him out but as soon as his foot crunched in the snow he got scared. So my Mum put snow on my head and it went all down the back of my coat when I shook it, I can still hear him laughing at me. After that he came outside and we couldn’t get him in. He sat on the floor holding handfuls of snow until it melted in his hands looking at me all confused and saying ‘gone’ because he didn’t understand. I still have a photo from that day on my wardrobe door and it’s usually the first thing I look at in the morning.
I’ve never been afraid of talking to my brother, even though I must have looked strange sitting there talking to him and holding an ear bud to the grave for him to hear his songs but it doesn’t matter, it was all about memories, people can think what they like.
The strangest thing happened that night when I finally managed to fall asleep. Twice I woke with the sensation that a man was sitting on my bed next to me watching me sleep. I saw the outline of his figure and both times went straight to the window to look out into the sky through sleepy eyes and look to the star I see from my window, the one I like to think is him watching over me, the one I talk to when I miss him. I know I wasn’t afraid and I went to sleep smiling so maybe he was there with me that night after listening to me talk to him.
I started a book a while ago of all the things remember about the people in my life so one day when I’m not here any more the people who come after me will be able to know more about the people I’ve known and loved. I started it after researching my family history and realising I would have loved to know personal details about some of the interesting people I found out about.
I have no idea what to do about my Nan, I keep trying to get her to see a Doctor but she is so scared she won’t go and see him. She isn’t eating much either, I keep trying different tricks to get her to eat. We brought her some Complan to try to build her up and I’m trying to get her to take vitamins but she doesn’t believe in taking them.
I took her out for a walk and then to dinner yesterday and she was adamant she wouldn’t eat anything but we managed to get her to eat most of her dinner in the end, she even ate half my Grandad’s sticky toffee pudding to his dismay.
We went to the park where we have been hundreds of times over the years and sat talking on the bench. She had no memory of the park and said she hadn’t been there this year when they have been almost once a week over the summer.
She is forgetting people and places, she doesn’t always remember my name but I’m used to that as everyone in my family ends up calling me the wrong name half the time, I answer to pretty much anything.
I wish I’d had the opportunity to give her a great-grandchild as she would love that so much. She is incapable of passing a child without stopping and saying hello to it, and not in a weird child catcher way, when your from a family of 13 children who all have numerous children they become part of your normality and you miss not having them around.
I’m the eldest of 4 and I struggle to pass a crying baby without trying to make it laugh. It’s a natural reflex after years of trying to make babies laugh and looking after them.
But that’s just me, always trying to make people laugh and looking after people, I spend so much time worrying about everyone else and what they need I often forget that I have a responsibility to myself to live my life too but it feels wrong to me somehow to want things for myself and put myself first, but I’m trying.
I guess I just need to be more creative where Nan is concerned and find ways to help her more. I think it bothers her that she doesn’t remember things. But luckily I’ve heard all their stories so often that I can keep them with me to pass on so she won’t be forgotten. They’re a pair of characters my Nan and Grandad, he’s probably the person I’m closest to in my family, I’ve always been his girl and he’s always been my hero so anything I can do to help them I have to try.