My brother and I are now in our 60's, and I am a grandfather, yet our mother is still alive at the age of 92 -- and a half! She is living comfortably in a nursing home and we attempt to be faithful in our visiting, sometimes arranging to be there together and other times with our spouses. She always seems pleased to see us. She chuckles at the videos of her great-grandchildren and listens intently to scripture.
We trust that she still knows us and she responds readily to photos from the past. It is the present which is coming unraveled. She lives with dementia, which can unsettle her contentment in the late afternoon, and some days she can't complete a sentence. We do our best to connect her with her own story without making it an unattainable goal.
I am intrigued by an art project by Jenni Dutton which is described in Selvedge magazine:
The Dementia Darnings were started in 2011 whilst Jenni was a carer for her mother, who was developing dementia. She began exploring ways of engaging with the past, often looking at old photo albums. She would use stitching to 'draw' likenesses of family members and her mother would enjoy watching her create these pictures of familiar faces.
I think this project is brilliant. Not only are these images creative, they capture the truth that our lives are woven together from so many materials, so many experiences. When these begin to unravel an individual often knows and mourns, and so do those who love them. Sometimes the best we can do is to honour what we remember and still cherish.