As hard as it is to watch Mom struggle to remember some of her life’s most important moments, it’s equally heartening to watch her recall truly happy memories anchored in the “Hallmark holidays”. Halloween seems to be one of those days on the calendar.
Since returning from our vacation, the change in Mom’s behaviours has been rather dramatic. Initially she had real difficulty remembering who I was – we’d have a polite chat but it was easy to see that she was really uncertain why I was there. I decided to share with her some of my childhood memories of autumn to see if I could help her shake loose a few memories of her own.
Fall has always been one of my favourite times of year – as an adult I love the cooler weather and the anticipation of upcoming winter celebrations. As a child the Fall months meant new friends and challenges at school, and the anticipation of days like Halloween. Halloween in the 1960s was primarily a single day event, unlike today when the “holiday” with the sales of it’s associated paraphernalia starts in early September. Sure, at school we’d participate in Halloween activities in the days leading up to October 31, but we were most excited about revealing our costumes to our friends and neighbours on the day. Mom was quite crafty and created some great costumes for both my brother and me. Although I reminded her that growing up in Alberta meant there was always a possibility that Halloween costumes so meticulously put together could just as easily be covered up by snow suits! I had a good laugh this week as Mom and I looked at some of the old Halloween photos. It was quite clear that some years she was either time or creatively challenged, evidenced by my “ghost” costume or the clown outfit that showed up a few years in a row. But our bat outfits were terrific and I made a pretty adorable hobo.
I wasn’t able to dislodge any real Halloween memories from Mom’s own childhood, but without fail each time I mentioned that it was nearing the end of October she’d immediately say “it’s almost time for Halloween!” I expect that the memories she created for her children were far more impactful and made for more important and long lasting memories for her. She lovingly preserved our school projects and pictures and instilled in us a love of the spirit of the day.
Even though Mom has forgotten so much, it really makes me happy to know that it’s the fun, creative and special days that she’s still able to hang on to. And I’m so thankful that she preserved so many of those moments for us to enjoy together now.