My aunt has Alzheimer’s. It’s an unforgiving disease, especially for the loved ones of the afflicted. But this isn’t going to be a piece commenting on the heartbreak the obliteration of memory causes but rather it will be about the gems of memories deposited in my life by the existence my aunt.
When I graduated from high school my aunt gave me a tiny white box. Inside were the prettiest gold hoop earrings. When I was a little girl my aunt and uncle came to visit and we all went out for Chinese food. To get to the restaurant we had to walk by a jewelry store and of course we had stopped to look in the store window. I guess, at six years old, I told my aunt that when “I get older I’m going to wear hoops like those in my ears”. She remembered and she bought them for me twelve years later when I graduated from high school.
Then when I was was in fourth grade my family made our yearly sojourn to Saskatchewan to visit relatives. My aunt had these ceramic wall hangings of what I, at the time in my ten year old mind, thought were Louis IV courtiers. One of a man and one of a woman both with pouffy, bouffant hair, feather plumes and lace collars. I thought they were the most exotic most beautiful pieces of art I had ever seen and told her so. A couple of years ago, when my uncle had died and my aunt was downsizing her household in preparation to move into a smaller retirement home, she sent the wall hangings to me. Now they don’t really match the decor of the condo, actually I’m not really sure what decor they would match, but I was so touched that she remembered how much I had admired them and that she wanted to give them to me.
And my aunt doesn’t remember giving me the gold earrings or the unique pictures. But that’s ok.
It’s ok because they are meant to be mementos of her. Little remembrances of an aunt who, even though she didn’t see me all that often throughout her life, she heard me. Heard my little comments about what I thought was pretty and remembered them.
Remembered them long enough to make a couple of my little wishes come true.