It would not be unreasonable for me to be accused of being sentimental. I love to look back on my childhood. It was mainly very happy – we all have difficult stuff that happens like friends moving away, grandparents dying, bad days when our friends suddenly don’t seem to be in the mood to be as friendly as they were the day before – but yes, generally I had a very happy childhood. I remember playing at the top of the stairs while my mum mopped the front doorstep and listened to Jimmy Young on Radio 2. I remember my dad making a mix tape of Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Wonder and The Kids From Fame songs for my 7th birthday party. I remember, about a month after my birthday party, visiting my new baby brother in hospital and my mum holding his squidgy little face whilst winding him. I remember a school trip to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, and laughing at the funny old-fashioned hole-in-a-bench toilets. I remember my friend’s dad bringing a real-life mole into school that had turned up in their back garden and needed some nursing. I remember our next door neighbours getting two kittens and when we went to meet them, they were hiding under the bed, occasionally peeping their little heads out to see us.
I remember holidays in Swanage in Dorset where my little brother and I popped out saved-up 2p coins into the machines in the arcades, built complicated tunnel systems in the sand on the beach and enjoyed lovely ice creams, walks to The Globe (if you’ve been there, you know what I mean) and our traditional last night dinner of fish and chips and giant gherkins from the tucked-away chip shop that our dad loved best.
I also have wonderful (and not-so wonderful) memories of my teenage years, time at university and my first teaching job. I have memories of becoming a single mum, meeting my husband, dating him, getting engaged, getting married, having two more children and raising them – although I must admit to having BIG memory gaps when it comes to our children’s lives. I guess that could be put down to a six-year period of depression for me, or perhaps it is just par for the course when it comes to parenting…answers on a postcard.
So, yep, sentimental through and through. I suppose I take after my dad. Only yesterday he regaled me with (even more) tales of his naughty adventures with a box of matches in the woods of Upper Basildon where he grew up. He loves to tell us all stories of stink bombs he bought in Wall’s Carnival Stores and then let off in extremely unhelpful places. He laughs as he remembers his parents’ reaction to his exploits and tears up when telling us how much his misses them.
Our memories are such a big part of what makes us US. But, they are only one part. What about our passions? Our interests? Our friendships and relationships? Our education and training? Our work? Our sense of humour? Our hopes and dreams for the future? Our use of language and ability to communicate…in our own style?
What happens when those things fade? What makes us US then? What happens when we lose some of the pillars of what makes us US? And who will we rely on to love us and understand us when those pillars fall? People suffering with Dementia face the reality of losing the very things that make them THEM. Their short-term or long-term memories, sense of humour, personality, passions, hopes and dreams for the future, physical health and fitness, their relationships, and much more.
As I reflect on my life so far, and then consider my future, I wonder if I will be loved, understood and supported, even when what makes me ME has gone. I do hope so.
Here at Hope Law, kindness is our priority and we want to be part of a community that shows kindness, acceptance and understanding to its most vulnerable members. This month, Hope Law’s Charity of the Month is The Alzheimer’s Society and their initiative, Dementia Friends. This amazing initiative aims to inform as many people as people as to how we can support those suffering with Dementia, with kindness and understanding. If you would like to get involved or make a donation, head over to our Making A Difference page now!