It's Easy to Forget

Memories of a lifetime

Halloween

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Halloween 2014

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.

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I made a pretty great hobo!

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Clearly either I didn’t know what I wanted to be or Mom ran out of time!

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Hmmmmm, my brother’s costume looks awfully familiar.

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Reversal of fortune – the “clown” pattern finds a new life and the “mouse” gets handed down!

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The “bat” costumes were a favourite

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.

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Playschool “artwork” from the late 1960s. Mom was definitely an active parent volunteer

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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.

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Reversal

In a few hours my partner and I are leaving on a long anticipated holiday.  The last time we were away for an extended period – more than a year and a half ago – Mom was in quite a different place, literally and figuratively.  She was still living independently, her mobility was intact, and for the most part she was fully aware that we’d be away on a holiday.  As anxious as I’ve been about  our holiday adventure to start, the anxiety of leaving Mom, who is quite different now, has been equally great.  Thankfully, between family and the care team at her residence I know she’s in great hands and more than likely won’t even recognize that I’m gone. It’s reminded of times she and Dad set off on holiday when my brother and I were kids and left with the grandparents, and I’ve been struck by the role reversal that’s taken place in our relationship.

Mom’s memory has been getting a good workout this week thanks to a well timed visit from her brother and sister-in-law. I think her emotional connection to him has allowed her to access memories that have been unavailable for a while.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I asked her if she remembered what she used to do when she and Dad were away on holiday – “I used to leave little surprises for you every day”.  In the vernacular of her favourite sport – she hit that one out of the park!

I have to admit that I don’t recall feeling terribly distressed when Mom and Dad left for a holiday without us. It just meant that we got to spend time at Grandma and Grandad’s.  It was like our own little holiday at home – probably not so much from Grandma’s perspective – especially the time I came down with Chicken Pox almost immediately after Mom and Dad left!  Looking back, I suspect that Mom must have felt some healthy maternal guilt about leaving her young sons behind, but being the consummate mother she was, made sure she that while she was out of sight she wasn’t out of mind. She put a fair bit of effort into leaving small parcels and notes that were doled out by Grandma over the entire time she was away. The packages would contain little toys or games and we’d eagerly look forward to receiving them. It alleviated any separation anxiety on our part and more importantly assuaged Mom’s guilt!

This week I’ve been putting the heart of  Mom’s old technique in motion once again. I’ve left some of her favourite treats for her care team to parcel out over the next few weeks and made plans to chat with her on the phone a couple of times.  And while the shoes are now planted firmly on different feet, I fully expect her old plan will still take care of any guilt or anxiety either of us might experience.

Bon voyage!

 

Gin

I wanted to try an experiment with Mom, and despite the title of this entry alcohol wasn’t involved!  Playing cards was though. I wanted to see if I could shake loose a few memories associated with a family card tournament that still takes place over the Labour Day long weekend. The experiment produced some mixed results, Mom just couldn’t figure out what to do with the cards,  but we had a few good chuckles along the way.

September is rife with memory potential for Mom.  Family birthdays have always taken up a fair number of calendar days, but more importantly the long weekend signalled the end of the cottage season. In the days before many lake cottages in Alberta were “winterized” families spent the Labour Day weekend bringing boats and piers out of the water and preparing the cottages for a long winter ahead.  Even now when I mentioned to Mom that it was the first of September she said, “it’s so sad, it’s time to shut everything down again.”  Although I love the fall months now, when I was in my early teens I used to dread the long weekend because it meant the summer was over and school was about to start again. The Gin Rummy Tournament changed all that.

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Serious tournament play!

The genesis of the tournament took place on a cold, wet weekend in the mid 1970s when our family was on a camping trip. The inclement weather had definitely and literally put a damper on things. I’m sure that it was my Dad and Uncle that came up with the idea of a gin rummy card tournament to keep everyone occupied.  They drew up a round robin schedule and I clearly remember the final round being played late at night by the light of a Coleman lantern.  My Uncle Bill was the inaugural winner. Everyone had such a good time that it was decided the tournament would be replayed annually at the lake over the Labour Day weekend. The following year a trophy was created and took center place on the fireplace mantle of Holmwood. And although that cottage is long gone the trophy, and tournament are still intact.

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The fabled and coveted Gin Rummy Trophy

That weekend tournament holds some really fond memories and Mom and I shared a few of them today.  Most notably was “The September Curse”named in honour of the aforementioned family members who celebrate birthdays in September but were never winners of the tournament.  It’s only fairly recently in fact that the “curse” was finally broken.  Two of my favourite “tourney” memories involve my grandma. The nature of a “round robin” style of tournament creates an “A” and “B” side winner who eventually play off for the win. One year those players were my Grandma and brother who was about 10 years old and one of the “September Cursed”. My Grandma did her best to lose the game, but the cards just wouldn’t let her – she felt guilty about that win for a long time!  She was also involved in match between my Grandad and me.  The deck of cards we were playing with were sticking and Grandad’s solution was always to sprinkle them with a bit of talcum powder. Grandma came to the rescue but as she was applying the powder to Grandad’s cards the cap came off the container and we were enveloped in cloud talcum powder accompanied by one of Grandad’s trademark curses – “Jeezus!”  My younger self thought that was the funniest thing ever and retelling the story with Mom today brought tears of laughter to her eyes.

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The “September Cursed” – Grandad Drake, my brother Trevor, cousin Marnie, Dodo (Clara Henry) and Nanny (Helen Carey). It was years before one of the September crew claimed the title.

 

The Gin Tournament was a lovely way to take the sting out of the last days of summer and it continues today with new generations dealing the cards. And more importantly for me it’s created memories for Mom that still resonate. And that’s always a good thing.

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Heated games could go on well into the night. Mom and I (near window) and Aunt Liz and Trevor.

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Yesterday my Dad would have celebrated his 78th birthday.

Dates on the calendar are meaningless to Mom but they’re surrounded by emotions that can easily overwhelm her. The past few years I’ve spent Dad’s birth date with Mom encouraging good memories of him with limited success. The memories and stories, no matter how happy, funny or light, seem to bring out in her feelings of loss and sadness that can linger for days. I wasn’t able to see Mom yesterday and was actually prepared to not even mention Dad’s birthday on my visit today, but as usual the universe had other plans!

I was nominated to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and was trying to explain to Mom how it worked. Out of nowhere she said “your dad would do something crazy like that“. She was absolutely right.

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Me and Dad 1964

Edwin S. Cook was many things to many people – loving husband, father, son, brother, grandfather, uncle, dedicated professional and above all, a man who inspired others to be the best they could be. He gave many hours to volunteer service and often took part in events that were slightly “outside the box” to make a point. I helped Mom remember one of those events this morning.

One of Dad’s proudest achievements was the time he spent volunteering with the YMCA. He served in many capacities throughout the years, but I believe was most engaged when he was developing ideas that would help others see the world, locally and globally, in a different way.  He loved to write inspired presentations and speeches and formulate plans for fundraising or awareness campaigns – and he was tremendously good at both.  One campaign he talked about often took place in the early 1970s when he was a member of one of the local Y’s boards. He was co-hosting a group of delegates from around the globe who were attending meetings about poverty. The majority of the presentations took place in a boardroom and were of the typical variety – uninspired and somewhat boring.  When the presentations ended and it was time for dinner, Dad herded the entire group of delegates – many of whom were legislators and leaders from their communities – onto busses and delivered them to a local men’s shelter where they were served a meagre meal.  During and after the meal Dad engaged the group in discussions about the real face of poverty. I remember Dad telling me that there was a lot of grumbling initially but the end result was extremely positive – although I think he took some flack from the YMCA executive for his “reckless” plan.

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Dad doing what he did best – inspiring others with his words

Today, a campaign like that wouldn’t seem reckless at all, in fact it would elicit very little reaction. But 40 years ago, heads turned and people noticed and took action. I will always admire the way Dad took the time to find ways to truly inspire people to be better.  As I was telling the story this morning, Mom listened with rapt attention like it was the first time she’d heard it.  And when I finished she had a little tear in her eye but it wasn’t from longing and sadness, but from pride.  I hope she can hang on to those memories and emotions of the man she spent so much of her life with.  I know I do, and  if I learned nothing else from him, it’s that I need to do my best every day and find ways to inspire those around me to do the same.

Sharing that memory with Mom was the perfect way to celebrate the birthday of a truly inspirational man – Happy Birthday Dad!

 

 

School

Some days I take the local, community newspaper to Mom’s place and we read the news of the day.  Today she was far more interested in the “back to school” flyers than anything else.  Seems like Mom was tapping into some memories of her brief, but influential time as a teacher.

We recently found a binder filled with both Mom and Dad’s report cards from early elementary school grades right through university. It’s been fun reading them and it’s great that Mom recognizes the names of many of her teachers. They obviously made quite an impact on her. And we’ve both had a few good chuckles realizing that in those early years Mom was clearly a much better student than Dad. She particularly enjoyed a teacher’s comment on Dad’s eighth grade report card that said, “Edwin is too talkative and creates nonsense”. And I hate to admit that I enjoyed finding that Dad, like me, took several attempts at passing his grade 12 math (she says that’s why she always looked after the household finances). I obviously inherited Dad’s academic genes, and my brother mirrored my Mom’s – she was really strong in math and science while Dad excelled in writing and the social sciences as well as physical education (the point the similarities ended between me and Dad!)

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A good all around student – except her teacher didn’t think she was particularly creative!

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It’s feelings more than events or people that Mom remembers about her days as a student. She remembers feeling happy and curious and a little bit timid, but school was enjoyable and she developed real admiration and respect for her teachers. It was those early teachers, mostly women,  and one of her aunts who was a teacher and vice principal in Calgary that helped form her decision to pursue teaching as a career.

In the post war years of the 1950s, an increasing population resulted in a critical shortage of teachers. To facilitate this need most Canadian universities created a two-year “teaching certificate” programme designed for students who wished to teach but not pursue a full degree.  That was the path Mom chose.  We discovered the letter the Edmonton Public School Board sent to Mom notifying her of her new position as a second grade teacher.  We read it often.  It’s actually the hand-written letter from my grandmother included with the letter that I enjoy more.  Mom was likely enjoying the summer at the lake when the notification arrived and my grandma couldn’t wait to see if it contained the anticipated good news. There’s real pride for Mom in her words, mixed with an apology for opening her mail!

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She’s still very proud of this letter!

 

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Mom’s Grade Two class at Grovenor School in Edmonton

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Mom’s class performs their Christmas play in 1958

Mom taught grades two and four for just under six years, when she married and started her family.  I’ve often thought that one of the biggest regrets of her life was not returning to the teaching profession. But she and Dad were adamant that my brother and I would always have a parent at home – and in the 1960s that was almost always the mother. Mom filled the teaching void by being a “professional” school volunteer and has always lived the teacher’s life vicariously through the many dedicated and respected teachers throughout our family.

And come to think of it, she still teaches me something new every day.

 

Winston

While today definitely didn’t turn out quite the way I would have liked it to I did learn something new and valuable.

When I arrived to visit Mom this morning I noticed on the daily activity board that the local SPCA was bringing a variety of animals in to visit with residents. They’ve been there a few times since Mom moved in but we’ve never participated with them.  Today was overcast and threatening rain for the first time in weeks, so I decided it would be a good diversion and give Mom something new to think about.

There were already a number of Mom’s neighbours enjoying the company of various animals when we arrived in the Bistro.  Mom seemed rather ambivalent about the whole thing until the volunteer with animals tried to put a big, fluffy cat on her lap. That’s when things went south quickly. Mom got quite an indignant look on her face and said, “don’t put that there I’m very allergic to all animals!”  It didn’t seem to matter what I said, she just wasn’t having any part of it.  So we beat a rather hasty retreat.  Once I got Mom back to her suite and settled her agitation, I tried to remind her that she’s had some very dear pets in her life.

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Winston

It is true that Mom’s experience with animals and pets has been from end to end on the spectrum. What I learned today is that the memories she’s retained about the animals in her life are sadly all quite negative. Though understandable given that Mom’s early years living on a farm identified that she had asthma.  And even though her family had dogs as pets – she still remembers the one named Butch- – living amongst farm animals really wasn’t a healthy environment for her so the family relocated to the city. Clearly that part of her life instilled in her a belief that animals couldn’t be a part of her, or her family’s life. A belief that remained in place for many years.

When we were kids my brother, who inherited some of Mom’s asthmatic genes, and I did have pets, but they tended to be of the fin and feather variety. Budgies and aquariums full of tropical fish were our pets of choice, and there was one summer when Grandma got a pair of rabbits for us at the lake.  But that all changed one year when I was in high school. For some reason I decided that buying a classmate a kitten for Christmas was a great idea. Unfortunately neither she nor her parents agreed and I was left trying to figure out what to do with an adorable eight-week-old black kitten. So I took him home and for reasons that still elude me, Mom let us keep Winston, as he came to be called. For the next 16 years he was the constant companion of both Mom and Dad and they adored him. Mom’s allergies seemed to be dormant and Winston was a part of everything they did, including travelling back and forth to the lake. He was spoiled rotten and had the best life a cat could possibly have. Mom was devastated when he died.

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The real lord of the manor!

She didn’t have another pet until shortly after arriving in Vancouver. One of her neighbours was moving and unable to take her cat with her. We decided that adopting another cat would be good for Mom and so Gracie became part of her life for a short while. Unfortunately after Mom’s extended hospital stay last year it became apparent that she wouldn’t be able to care for Gracie any longer and so she came to live with us until she passed on a few months later.

I was really disappointed today that Mom didn’t remember Gracie or Winston, although his name did spark a reaction or two.  Looking at some of his pictures produced a few memories but for the most part she’s reverted to remembering that animals cause her to be allergic. But her acceptance and love of Winston was a revelation for me. Somehow, the fact that we had a cat in the house ignited my inner “Dr. Dolittle”.  Since then I’ve had cats, dogs, even horses in my life. David and I currently share our lives with two cats who are clearly in charge of our home.   I really appreciate that she threw her inhibitions about animals aside and allowed that little kitten into our home all those years ago. She let us experience the joy of furry pets as companions.  And all of our lives have been immeasurably enriched because of her choice.

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Dad, Mom and Winston at the lake.

 

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We were so fortunate to join a friend last night at a screening of one of the most inspirational films I’ve ever seen in a long time – Alive Inside.

The premise of the documentary is that music has a tremendously positive impact on those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Over a three year period, social worker Dan Cohen worked at having iPods available for residents of all nursing home facilities in the United States.  It’s both enlightening and frustrating watching him discover how powerful listening to personal music can be for dementia sufferers and then to be stonewalled by the administrations of many care facilities. For anyone who’s witnessed the transformative effects of music, as David and I have with our Moms, this simple and inexpensive therapy seems like a clear “no-brainer”. Alas, the bureaucracy and greed associated with aging seems to be forever in play.

The film’s quiet call to action certainly inspired me and I hope it will for many others as well. See it if you can!

 

Brothers

There’s something about the bond with a brother that transcends all else. While Mom often struggles to remember the names of faces staring back at her from pictures around her room, there’s one that never eludes her – her brother Bill.

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The arrival of “little Billy”

Quite often, particularly on the days I have to work, Mom will try to get in touch by phone (she has a phone with several numbers pre-programmed on the keypad). She randomly pushes the buttons until she gets someone on the other end of the line and when I can’t answer she’ll leave messages. Sometimes they are conversational, sometimes they’re pleading, sometimes they’re full of sadness, but lately more often than not, they’re directed to her brother.   And while so many memories of other relationships are being stripped away the one with her only sibling remains strong.

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Mom and Bill with their Grandmother.

Mom, – ten years Bill’s senior and a fact he enjoys reminding her of at any opportunity – has always enjoyed a happy relationship with him.  I get a good laugh now when she talks about the arrival of “little Billy” and whispers in a conspiratorial tone that he was a “surprise”.  With a decade long gap between children that’s a distinct possibility, but I expect the bigger surprise was for Mom’s 10 year-old self who’s world was undoubtably changed dramatically with his arrival.  I remember her saying many times in the past that she felt a certain responsibility for her brother and always looked out for his well being- something I believe she still tries to do today.

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I’m sure there’s a good story behind this one!! Dad, Mom and Bill

As adults, Mom and Bill love to share in the lives of each other’s families.  My aunt Liz has always been far more sister than mere sister-in-law, and while Mom has deep affection for all of her nieces and nephews, it’s the three Drake kids (Marnie, Kevin and Ryan) who hold a special place in her heart. Their names don’t come as easily to her any longer, but she still gets a smile on her face when I remind her of the many great times we’ve shared with them, and their kids, over the years.

Realizing how strong the connection is between Mom and Bill has reminded me how grateful I am for the special connection I share with my own brother.  Even though there’s a country between us we have a closeness that I treasure.  Although I’m sometimes thankful for Mom’s memory loss when she tells one of her neighbours that her boys were “always good as gold and never had a cross word between them.”  Not always the case as I’m sure Trevor would agree! But I expect that some of that tension was a result of Mom’s need to dress us in identical clothing for much of our childhood! Always frugal, she’d buy one Simplicity pattern and turn some horrible polyester fabric into two identical outfits – not cool at any age, but especially when you’re eight!  My partner thinks it’s hilarious how weirdly in-sync Trev and I are, particularly around gift giving.  I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve exchanged practically the same gifts at Christmas time. And we’ve given up trying to purchase music for each other.

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One of many fashion disasters that punctuated our lives!

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Our pyjama bag dogs – Trev’s was named Abigail – foreshadowing?? I think so!

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Forever hams

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My first nephew, Tyler

I have tremendous respect and admiration for my brother – not only as a sibling, but as a father to Tyler, Evan and Nolan; husband to his amazing wife Abigail, and supportive son to his Mom.   It’s respect and love that anchors Mom’s connection with her brother as well.   And even though we’re both separated from our respective brothers by distance and crazy life schedules, the bond we’ve forged with each of them will always be there.

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Friends forever

Camping

I think maybe it’s the scent of the season that draws out some of Mom’s more interesting memories.  This morning we were enjoying some time in the garden, not really talking, just sitting and taking in another beautiful summer day.  One of the staff who was watering the hanging baskets asked Mom what her favourite thing about summer was. “Camping!” was her answer. If I’d been on the Family Feud game show and had been asked to name the top five things my Mom loved to do, camping would have not made the list!

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I’m fairly certain Mom would much rather have been on a beach in Maui!

That’s not to say we didn’t go camping because we actually did a lot as we were growing up, but I would have to say that Mom would be classified as more of a reluctant participant rather than an avid enthusiast. It was Dad who had a greater yearning to get out into wilds and was responsible for instigating most of our adventures. It was Mom’s parents though that I think first introduced us to the camping experience. They used to take my brother and I on short trips to Jasper when we spent summers with them at the lake. We used a huge canvas tent that was old 45 years ago when I was a kid. And it was that tent that was the centre of one of the camping adventures that I remembered with Mom today.

A favourite family destination was Radium Hot Springs and we camped there from time to time and usually took the big canvas tent. I can still recall the smell of the musty oiled canvas as we sorted out it’s myriad pegs, poles and ropes. Once it was up it was roomy enough for four, full sized cots to be set up with room to spare. One summer evening Mom and Dad took us to our first drive in movie at a theatre that was built sometime in the 1950s (sadly it’s now long gone). During some point in the show a thunderstorm blew in and immediately upstaged whatever was on the screen.  The power got knocked out and Mom hustled us back to the campground where a torrential amount of rain was falling.  She and Dad got as much stuff under cover as they could and then we all hunkered down as close to the middle of the tent as possible – the last thing you want to do is touch a soaking wet canvas wall! At one point the rain was coming down so fast and furious that the water was actually running in a small river right under the floor of the tent. It took days after the storm for the tent to be fully dry. As the tent’s days as accommodation came to an end it was often repurposed as a sauna at the lake.

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Some hot rocks, a little water and presto – a tent becomes a sauna!

Another notable adventure was a lot more rustic and a lot more memorable for me. Dad arranged a hiking and camping trip into Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, with the Brown family, a colleague of Dad’s.  We were fully kitted out with backpacks, two person tents and a supply of freeze dried food packs. At one point in the hike we had to cross a river, which was quite swollen from a particularly heavy spring run off. I’m sure that the parents had many discussions about how best to get the kids across the water safely and decided that the two Dads would be able to carry us across.  Mr. Brown was my ride and unfortunately slipped on a rock throwing us both into the swiftly moving water.  As we recalled that event today I reminded Mom, that for years afterward she often joked that she wasn’t certain if he would grab for me or his pack of cigarettes which were floating alongside me down the river. Happily he chose me! I also recall that Mom spent the next few days in full worry mode wondering how we would get back across without a similar incident. Luckily a group of ranchers happened to be herding cattle back to pasture and offered to take us across horseback – they really saved the day and the trip. In fact Mom stayed in touch with the family for years afterward.

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Hiking in Yoho National Park in the 1970s – as evidenced by the jaunty headgear.

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Our cowboy saviours!

I’m certain Mom didn’t remember too many of the details of those camping adventures but we got a few good chuckles out of the stories. I really appreciate today what a good sport she was all those years ago about a pastime that clearly wasn’t her favourite.  But her participation, and encouragement, instilled in both my brother and me,  a life long love of the great outdoors.

Regatta

I had a striking revelation this morning. Mom’s confusion the past few weeks has been quite pronounced, more so than usual. She’s often trying to “get home so she won’t be late” – for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what she was afraid of being late for.  The way she’s been acting reminds me of when you’re waking from a really vivid dream and there’s that brief period you try to sort out what’s real and what’s imagined.  For Mom, trying to untangle memories and reality seems nearly impossible.  But I realized today those periods of increased confusion are often linked to events that hold special places in the deep recesses of her memory.   When I arrived this morning and asked how she was, she replied without hesitation, “It’s the Regatta weekend!” And with that she and I embarked on a short journey down her suddenly fog free memory lane.

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The Hall at Seba Beach – central hub of the Regatta

I really enjoy it when Mom and I share memories of an event but remember things from completely different perspectives. The Seba Beach Regatta, which takes place over the August long weekend, is one of those events and it has special meaning to everyone in our family. Regattas have always been a big part of lake and boating communities and the Seba Regatta’s roots can be traced back to the early 1900s. Although there have certainly been some changes over the years the core events of the weekend stays the same – a parade, games and races galore all culminating with a bonfire and fireworks.

Mom’s recollections of the Regatta, not surprisingly,  are from her teen years.  She remembers quite clearly spending time with her “lake” friends participating in games and races and singing around the bonfire with someone called Banjo Daddy (that one is going to need a bit more investigation but coincidentally my aunt, one of Dad’s sisters who lives across the country sent an email this week reminiscing about the Regatta and made reference to him as well!)

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Mom with one of her “lake friends”. I had no idea that fish gutting was a competitive sport at the Regatta!

Luckily I have great memories of Mom’s more competitive Regatta days of which she has only vague recollections. It’s hard to forget your mother hammering nails into railway ties or hurling rolling pins at vaguely male shaped effigies – politically correct the regatta is not – and she was darn good at both events!

For me the Regatta has always been about the parade. Sporting competitions have never been my forte, although I did take one or two ribbons in the swimming events. Truthfully it was planning our “family float” that was the most fun. We would spend weeks coming up with ideas and then constructing the finished product. There were some wacky results! One of my favourites was the year my brother Trevor and cousin Marnie took on the roles of Farmer Macgregor and Mrs Rabbit while they dragged a well decorated wagon featuring a cage with our pet rabbits down the route. For a couple of years I played clarinet in a concert band that was conducted by a vacationing high school band teacher. We performed on the back of a flatbed truck as it rumbled along the pot hole filled road – I’m sure that produced some interesting tunes!

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Trevor and Marnie and Salty the rabbit taking part in the parade.

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The Seba Beach band float

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Sandcastle champs! My brother Trevor, far right and our cousins Karen and Brad.

I love that the Regatta still creates special memories.  My cousins and their kids anticipate the start of the August long weekend just as Mom did 60 years ago.  It’s the one weekend of the year that I experience the strongest urges of  nostalgia.  And clearly Mom does as well as those deep seated memories of happy August days push through to the surface. I’m glad she and I could share a happy tear or two this morning remembering the fun of the Seba Beach Regatta. Maybe tomorrow when I see her I’ll take a rolling pin and see how her throwing arm is!

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Vintage Recipes and Recollections

Game4Learning

Fun Learning Resouces for Kids

Parenting a parent

...when your mom has Alzheimer's

Before I forget...

Early Onset Alzheimer's is not just a memory problem...

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Alzheimer's Wife

Occasional thoughts on the journey of a wife and her husband down the road of Alzheimer’s

InnovAge

This is Life on Your Terms

Laura Calder

the inviting life

My Neighbor Miss D

“When are you taking me home?“

DEMENTED

The Politically Incorrect Alzheimers Poetry Blog

Make Smart Moves

Enhance Your Lifestyle

Being Margaret

A lighthearted look at life on any given day

Travelling Namibia

A Namibian Perspective

Beth Dahleen

On Motherhood

DownJersey NorthCountry

Ramblings of a swamp rat turned billy goat