When I was a little girl, I loved going to my grandmother’s house and seeing glimpses of her childhood. She would pull out a stack of pictures and show me the horse she rode as a teenager, a big chestnut gelding named Flash. She loved talking about her father and his mill in the small town she grew up in, Bristol, Vermont. Tears often filled her eyes when she spoke of her childhood and the family she loved so much. She moved to Florida as a young adult after marrying my Grandfather, spending her life away from her family while she raised 4 small children, 3 boys and a girl (my Mom). This was long before the era of free long distance and Skype, so they made the annual drive up to Vermont in their station wagon, all on back roads. I can’t imagine being so far away from my Mom without our FaceTime and blogs to keep us in touch. My Gaga is an incredibly strong woman: working full time (nights as a nurse) while raising 4 kids under 5 years old (THREE boys!)
She’s older now and Alzheimer’s has creeped in, stealing her sharp memory and forcing her to repeat herself. I try to be patient as she tells me the same story she told 5 minutes before, and 5 minutes before that. I know that will be my mother in 30 years and me in 50. We recently moved my Gaga to an assisted living apartment. This is the same woman who only 5 years ago would mow her own 15 acre plot of land in Vermont- the same land that belonged to her Grandfather. Aging is so bittersweet. I love seeing my son grow into a little boy and tell me stories about airplanes while my daughter beam as she sits up on her own for the first time, but it really hurts to see my fiercely independent Gaga lose the freedoms she was always so proud of. I’m so glad I moved to Rhode Island 7 years ago and was able to spend summers and long weekends visiting with her while her memory was still clear. I will cherish those memories forever.
This is life. Before I know it, I will be watching my children have their own children and I will be worrying about my Mom. I see my Mom in me more than ever and my Gaga in her. I will get to visit* my Gaga in her new home on this trip back to Florida and she will get to meet the fourth generation Kilbourn woman, Sidney Ann. We have a photo shoot planned for this trip to capture the memories, even if my Gaga won’t remember them.
*I wrote this on my flight to Florida on Wednesday. Visiting my Grandma’s new home was great, she is happy and thriving. We also had a great family photo session and I can’t wait to share the pictures with you!