One warm evening in August I arrived home late after a gig. As I stood in the driveway, I looked around and noticed there were very few lightning bugs, or fireflies. I wondered, is it possible to see the last one of the year? The very next night, a firefly appeared right above me. Flashed and then rose in a spiral, signaling again while rising still higher. Then one last time as if to give me a wave good-bye for the season. Wow!
The following Spring I called Mom on Mother’s day and had another one of those conversations that reflected her ever increasing memory loss and confusion.
Jeff:Happy Mother’s Day Mom!
Mom:Jeffrey, thank you, I am a mother, right?
Jeff:Yes you are.
Mom: Debbie and Jeff right?
Jeff: That is correct Mom.
She asked some of her usual questions about our two sons, Alan and Ed, then proceeded to tell me she had their framed pictures by her phone. Now whenever she talks about her grandchildren, she always mentions them in chronological order. There are three grand-sons and three great-grandchildren.
Mom: Yes I have all of their pictures right here.Todd, Alan, Ed, Madeline, Jesus Christ, Bennett and Chase.Jesus is in the front.
Jeff: That’s quite a collection Mom.
Mom: Yeah it’s a little group.
Jeff: It sure is, Jesus has got himself a (sextet)
Mom:Jeffrey! Well, give my love to your wife…….Cindy, right?
Jeff: That’s right Mom, Cindy. It’s okay. I felt her smile through the phone. Bye Mom, love you.
JEFF AND MARIE: Memory Loss
I should tell you…. I did not always have a great relationship with my Mom. In fact, Mom didn’t even really honor my marriage with Cindy. This went on for a very long time. When memory loss and mild dementia began to set in, I feared for the worst.
But time and life changes things as we all know. And in these last few years, I have learned a bit about what it means to be on this road with her. Sorting through those things she can no longer remember and helping her hold on to what she can. Perhaps this new alteration of her mind has allowed her to forget some of the hurt she lived with. She’s a delight to be around, though more and more she is frequently indifferent to our visits.. Glad we came, just as glad we are leaving. “Where’s your car? Where did you park, you better get going it’s almost 11:00am!
I suppose that’s how it is for Mom, trying to recall or process anything from ninety one years as her memory switches on and off…...then I remembered... the firefly. Flashing on and off it’s gentle signal. That wonderful warm glow that says, “Hey, I’m over here... I’m over here.” Instead of expecting her to be sharp in every conversation, I think of the firefly, helping to illuminate her stories on and off as best as she can. I am finding that sometimes you have to open cracks in your life for laughter and resolve. Because then, the tears have a place to fall into. In an odd twist, an unusual turn, or maybe a holy surprise, Memory Loss……gave me a mother I never had before. It all started with a gentle reminder of light from a firefly….
copyright Jeff Raught 2016