When I was a little girl growing up on my beloved farm, the world was wide open. The days were long and there were more dreams than thoughts that ran through my pretty little head. I had no realization that there were ever going to be tragedies or failures or any days of sadness. Probably the first of many dark days was when we moved from this farm of mine. I should say that my parents pending divorce was the worst, but for me the result was worse….I had to leave my daisy fields and apple orchard along with our precious pet cows, Tad and Sad! I don’t even want to think about what happened to them. I shutter at the thought! As a girl of ten, these were scary times…..1969! The Viet Nam War was going strong and my only big brother was headed straight towards it. His choice…left home to join up….didn’t even wait to be drafted, for him staying home was worse. Poor guy. The world was changing and my world would never be the same. My memories of those times are precious to me and it is my most valuable possession. Most days it is easier to remember those days than what I did yesterday. Can I get a witness on that? Amen! The frightening thing for me is that I now have a family history of being forgetful…..one that makes this absent-mindedness a symptom rather than a …….oops! This has been a sad development for my siblings and I with our mother being the one who is losing herself day by day. She has been the strongest woman example in my life….she endured years of abuse in a love/hate marriage filled with drugs and alcohol and an eventual resulting divorce…..a need to protect her children which followed with days, weeks, months and years of working three jobs just to give us a descent life. By the time I was seventeen she had an offer to work in Alaska of all places on the North Slope at the Oil Company pipeline Housing Compound, once again leaving me feeling lost. But because we are a tough brood of girls I survived as well as her for the long nine years. She did return back home only to retire from two more jobs after her Oil Company job. She is a determined hard-working dame and always has been; has always had to be, she was the oldest girl of six kids growing up in a hard time. But now in this winter of her life she is battling the greatest enemy for any person, especially one so opinionated and strong-willed. The frustrating thing for us is that she isn’t always present in her mind. In a moment of discussing a beautiful orchid she has on her table and how much she loves the flower…… then only within five minutes she will ask about it again and so on and so on. Most days I am able to roll with it and I tend to change-up on my responses each time I am asked….”yes Mom it is beautiful….oh, isn’t it pretty…..and ..oh! that is so pretty!” Whatever it takes to get through the night…I say. I am being silly but at this time in our lives it is the best medicine, laughter that is! On the flip side, my mom can remember everything from she was a girl. She spends hour telling me about growing up in the mountains, Sherwood, Tn and being the oldest girl. There aren’t many funny memories but mostly ones of her mother and how she was sometimes hard on her. I try to reason with her and explain that is the way it is in families, even in ours, my sisters had to start dinner and do the dishes and clean house and all those chores that come with a family. It is not strange at all and when I “forget” for a moment that I can’t reason with her now…..oh geeez…now I have upset her! The good side of this disease is that in a few minutes she doesn’t even remember it……Sadly. I do miss my “in your face” discussions we would have…politics, religion….well that was it. I seem to bring out the best in her on those subjects because we were polar opposites. Oh I would love to have a fuss with her right about now……at least she has her memories and it turns out they are our most valuable possessions. Alzheimer’s is an unforgiving disease, it is a savage beast and I am forever aware of the possibility that it may be my future. I hope that I can handle it with as much grace as she has and my prayer is that she is able to take comfort in the memories that she does have. If the day come’s that she can’t recognize me I will take her a bouquet of Forget-me-knots and hold her hand and love her just the way she is.