In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. So I want to focus my posts this month on the subject of what Alzheimer’s cannot do. We know the havoc this disease can play on families and their loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s. We know what it CAN do….but what can it NOT do?
Alzheimer’s cannot delete my memories of Mom. So many memories, but one that seems to surface is my experience with new glasses frames.
As a freshman in high school, I was strongly affected by my peer group. At 14, I wanted to fit in and noticed the appearance of other girls in my high school – especially the popular ones. So I decided it was time for some new glasses frames.
But our family believed in conservative values and saving as much money as possible. We didn’t buy anything until we really needed it – and even then – we thought long and hard about it. If we needed something, we made it from the tools or ingredients we already owned. I knew Mom was going to be a hard sell.
When I begged her for new glasses, she said, “You don’t need different frames, just because the other kids are getting them. We don’t buy frames until you need new lenses, and your eyes are just fine.”
But after awhile, she must have grown tired of my complaints, because she decided to “make” me some new frames. The creative side of her personality suddenly exploded.
To give my new “look” some texture, Mom used a handful of rice kernels and glued them to my glasses frames. Then, to make them even more “beautiful” and noticeable, she painted them with red polish.
You can imagine how excited I was, an insecure little freshman, wearing my red rice glasses. After a couple of days listening to the snickers of kids at school, I stopped wearing them. Then I suffered with horrendous headaches.
Mom decided to take me to the optometrist – just in case – where he pronounced me ready for new lenses as well as new frames. I was overjoyed!
At my twenty-five year high school reunion, one of my classmates actually remembered the red rice glasses.
And so did I.
Alzheimer’s cannot steal that memory away.
©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh
What a creative and resourceful mom! Great point in reminding us of our ability to remember even as our loved one forgets. I have rejoiced many times over the gift of memories. And now that I have grandchildren I often wonder how they will remember our times together!
This is why I am always telling writers to keep journals and/or write their memoirs – so that the family stories live on.
RJ, if only you had photographic evidence of this debacle. This story is classic!
Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Those were the days before everyone had cell phones w/ cameras.
Oh dear heart! That would be a hard memory for me. And my kids would never ever ever let me forget that if I’d done something like that for them. They have enough fodder as it is.
Yeah – it’s funny now, but it sure wasn’t then.
Mom embarrassed me by lovingly sewing blouses and gathered skirts in clashing colors from her stash. They screamed “poor country girl.” Looking back, I see how she stretched every penny, was an excellent seamstress, and used what she had. I am proud of how she could do the impossible (keep us in clothing) with almost nothing.
Yes, those memories are funny now – but they sure weren’t at the time. It’s good that we can learn from them and see what our mothers were trying to do for us.
Love this story. I can only imagine!
Thanks, Martha. It’s funny now – not so much when I was 14 !
Lovely post. So good to focus on positive memories.. and have a laugh!
Thanks, Lisa. Yes, it’s a pretty hilarious visual !
I LOVE the thought of the ‘red-rice glasses’ and the effort your mother put into those for you! This story hit home for me because in the past week, we are realizing my mother probably has this disease. Getting her in to be diagnosed will be terribly hard, she is in denial right now. But…I want to remember all those good times and talk with her now while she still knows who I am. Thank you for sharing this!
Thank you for your comments. I’m sorry that your family is entering the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and I do hope your mother will be able to find contentment. Hang in there! If you’re in the KC area, I’m speaking this Saturday at the Bonner Springs library – on the topic of 7 Tips for Caregivers, 2pm. Would love to have you join us.