It stands on the corner where Alder and Bridge Streets intersect; the house where I spent my teenage years and from which I left when I became of age. A solid structure, it is an old building rich with history. Two generations of our family have lived there.
It was our beloved home, not only where our parents raised us but also where grandchildren and great-grandchildren laughed and played within its walls. It was here that Mom took care of Dad when he began to fail during the last few years of his life. This is the house that my siblings and I packed up when our mother moved because she couldn’t live alone anymore. It is this house, and the life it represented that my mother longs for.
It is more than the house, or the town that she desires, It is the presence of Dad, who passed in 2011 and the wholeness of her mind and heart that dementia is stealing from her. Dementia is stealing our mother, slowly and surely.
We take comfort that Mom is now in a safe, clean place and being cared for. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. There are some things in life that cannot be controlled, things that are hard to accept but accept we must and do the best we can each day. My siblings have done an amazing job handling the many details of Mom’s medical and financial situation. Mom has a network of good friends that have been closely supportive for many years. This it the nature of a small town. People care for one another.
The sad part is that Mom does not realize how much she is loved. I know she appreciates and loves her family and friends but she has been so sad since Dad died and hasn’t really been able to move on. She still has her sense of humor at times, and her easy-going personality is what I love the most. She has always had a hard time asking for help and I know she feels helpless right now. She is in a place that is not “home” and has lost control over aspects of her life. She has lashed out in anger and frustration, unable to escape the prison of thoughts in her mind; the forgetfulness, the anxiety and confusion.
I miss the house at the corner of Alder and Bridge. I miss the peaceful afternoons there with Mom when I would visit her. I miss our walks around the neighborhood on those beautiful summer evenings and sitting out on the front porch playing a game of Scrabble and sharing a cold beer. I suppose in a way I am grieving.
The house at the corner of Alder and Bridge has new life in it now; extended family (children of a cousin and their little boy). I am happy for that. I believe they are continuing the tradition of care and love of our family. There is much to be thankful for on this part of life’s journey.