I have noticed something. Dementia will not let you pick or choose the memories you keep. It will choose them for you.
I started keeping a journal shortly after being diagnosed. For future reference it is next to the “Hagadorn Holiday Handbook.” After rereading the passages I had entered, there were many memories I wanted to forget. I can't blacken them out as if they never existed. I went as far back into my childhood as I could remember.
Peggy is my sister. She is forever 29, but she is actually 15 months younger than me. A lot of what I wrote about her were such negative memories. I almost broke her nose by slamming a cupboard door on her face during a silly quarrel. (Sorry, Peggy.) I was jealous that she could drive and I couldn't. I have a seizure disorder that was not controlled, but I have met the nicest ambulance drivers ( How are you, Joel?). Anyway, back to my sister. She was tall and thin and had great legs and a beautiful hair.
I was short, not so thin, which in Patty terms means really fluffy. My hair always looked like a bush parted down the middle. That's when I decided to add a few more thoughts to my journal. The things I really want to keep fresh in my last few remaining brain cells.
Peggy is a breast cancer survivor. She battled it with dignity and grace. She is a hard worker and goes after what she wants, including getting the best deal possible at a yard sale. I wrote about how she and Phil, my brother-in-law, did such a wonderful job raising my nephew, Ron.
My next entries were about my brother, Tom. He is three years younger than me. He loved bugs, and during a time when Granny lived with us, he deposited a few hundred of his favorite in her underwear drawer. He had no fear of heights; he was able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. This stopped shortly after receiving nine stitches in his tongue.
Tom grew up to be a fine man. He will bend over backward to help anyone, including strangers. He is a hard worker and loyal and has a lovely girlfriend, Dawn.
My younger brother, Terry, should have been named “Terror.” We are nearly 12 years apart. It was Terry's mission on earth to make my dating life miserable. He thought it was just a hoot to flick the porch light off and on when my date walked me the door (remember when guys actually did that?). He had the best timing in the world. I had many awkward moments of him flinging open the door and turning my good-night kisses into a hardy hand shake and a pat on the back.
What I want to remember about Terry is his lovely wife, Amy. She is a dream. Mmmmm, sorry kid. I must be still harboring some deep-seeded hostility!
Collectively, what I want to remember about Peggy, Tom and Terry is they were part of a group of faces at the end of my bed when I almost died on June 16. They were always right there, ready and willing to help whenever called upon. I thank you for that, and I love you.
Brothers and sisters. I am so thankful for mine. They will either stab you in your back or have it.