Over the holidays my family and I went caroling at my Grandmother’s. It was a moment I truly had to prepare myself for… (For those of you who have just stumbled here and do not know, my Grandmother has lost her memories…Which means in many ways…Actually in almost all ways…I have lost her)
…After we first arrived at her home I was approached by a gentleman in bright red plaid pajamas. He stood there a moment searching my face…and then as if his mind still in question he whispered…”I know you.” Having experienced this many times while visiting the memory care facility I just simply smiled. There must have been something familiar in that smile because he then grabbed me tightly around my waist and with tears in his eyes he said “You turned out so beautifully!” I cannot express to you how strange it is to stand in a moment that was meant for someone else. A moment meant for someone he once knew and cherished long ago….But there I was…The humbled “stand in”.
By this time my son had noticed this strange man holding onto his mother and so he quickly came to my rescue. As he approached the man released me from his grip and bent down to look at Jonah. He gave his nose a little tap and looked up at me with a great big smile “Such a good looking chap. Take great care with him.” And with that he was on his way. He had found what he was looking for. ↓
After reassuring my son that all was well I wandered over to the circle of caroling that had formed around my beautiful Grandmother. I decided to take a few pictures to capture the moment. As I looked through my camera lens I noticed that my Grandmother was staring right at me. I put the camera down only to once again have my face searched. The search seemed to go on and on…I was afraid to move for fear of her getting lost in it. I waited for something…anything to let me know that she had found me. Finally I smiled…and she smiled back…And then just like that she was gone again. Although we may not have found each other…At least not as we once would have…We did find a moment to share….A moment that was meant for me to humbly stand in.
When I arrived home I started thinking (as I often do upon return) of what it must be like to be lost in your own mind….Wandering from one brief and scattered memory to the next. I usually think of my Grandmother as someone who has wandered away in the woods searching for her home…anxiously waiting for her rescue. But that day I was left with a different thought. I thought about the man in the red plaid pajamas. I thought about how in his wanderings he still found a way to be home. He was not waiting to be rescued…He had already arrived…Moment by moment. Although it be ever so bitter sweet I know that my Grandmother is also no longer waiting for her rescue…I can stop trying to find her…She is already found…She is peacefully sitting beneath the old walnut tree beside her family home…She is running free on the dirt roads of her childhood. “Not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither. Deep roots are not reached by the frost…”