Fading away

SeasonsFreida’s fade into Alzheimer’s -unlike others, perhaps – seemed to take her to warm and cherished places.

Freida lost memory of her husband of 50-plus years and her 11 children. When she also lost memory of the stove burner left on high and glowing red-hot, her family moved her to the local nursing home.

“I want to go home,” became her mantra until her family gave in and made arrangements to allow her to live at home.

“I want to go home” was still her cry even as she sat on her own living room.

Home, I think, was a place deep in her memory.

Her favorite story, one she repeated countless times, involved an incident at her childhood church.

“It was Christmas Eve and the choir was sitting together with the Christmas tree right beside them. “

Her eyes were bright with the memory.

“All the candles on the tree were lit and suddenly the tree caught on fire.”

I calculated that this event happened somewhere around 1915.

Freida chuckled. “The usher ran to the door and grabbed the bucket of drinking water.”

“There was a bucket for drinking water?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said as though I had forgotten to pick up the milk from the store. “With the ladle hanging in the side.”

“Oh, sure” I agreed.  Her memory was vivid.

“Well, that usher grabbed the bucket and ran to the front of the church. He threw the water toward the fire.” She chuckled again. “But he missed the tree and soaked the choir instead. Ladle and all!”

Freida shook her head and chuckled again. “Got the whole choir.”

I waited. She was smiling, her eyes bright with the moment.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Uh, what happened to the fire?” I said.

She seemed to have forgotten me but she shifted her weight as she caught my eye. “Oh, the men carried the tree outside and threw it in a snowdrift.”

Although Freida’s family grieved as her memory faded, she accepted each day with an old story told with a laugh.

And I still miss her.

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