A couple of weeks ago I went out with my family to take some pictures to send to my grandmother for Mother’s Day. My grandmother is a strong, opinionated, and physically fit woman for her age, who also has dementia.
My youngest brother was annoyed with the fact that he had to go and couldn’t understand why he needed to be there. As I was explaining the importance of these photos and what they meant to our grandmother it dawned on me why writing and photography are so important to me.
Since I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2014 I have suffered from extreme fatigue and brain fog. I often forget small details of something that happen or I am too exhausted to pay full attention to everything that is going on around me. If I don’t write down the details of an appointment the moment it is scheduled, I will more than likely miss that appointment. I couldn’t tell you my daughter’s first words or what she wore on her first birthday, unless I had taken the time to document them.
Those photos she has, and the ones we send her, are how she relives her life.
I’ve watched my grandmother eat foods she has hated her whole life because she didn’t remember that she didn’t like them and her sense of taste isn’t what it use to be. I listened to her retell stories of her life from the perspectives of people that weren’t even there, because she didn’t remember all of the details.
One of my favorite things about my grandma is how she comes alive when she pulls that stack of photos out of her purse; each one with names, dates, and locations scribbled on the back. Some of those photos are brand new, some decades old. She looks at a photograph and the memories suddenly start flowing in. I’ve sat through entire conversation with her that started from a single photograph she wanted to share with me.
Writing and photography is for keeping the memories.
I want to remember the details and feelings the way I am experiencing them in that moment, not what someone has “reminded” me of in the future. To be able to understand my actions from my perspective, even if I don’t remember them a year later. I want to remember how copper-red Loxley’s hair is and Finley’s wild curls. I want to remember how they drive me insane, but a single giggle instantly puts a smile on my face.