Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To my Caregiver: “All I Have Are My Yesterdays…..”

By Sharon A. O'Brien, SC; RN, PG; BSW, RSW; CG 
Executive Vice-President of Policy & Education 
at Senior Watch 

You want me to stop talking about the past. I know by the look on your face that it bothers you, but that is all I know.

I cannot remember what I did this morning. I cannot remember how to make my tea. I don’t remember the names of my grandchildren and sometimes I don’t know who you are although you tell me you are my son. But I do remember the school I attended as a child and I still remember my grade one teacher. The pain of saying goodbye to my father at the train station when he went to war is still vivid in my mind. I was 12 years old. He never came back. You assure me when you leave me that you will return, but how can I be sure?

I remember the day our town burned. It all started from a spark from the foundry. Mama kept us safe by taking us to a big hill on the other side of the town and wrapping us in wet blankets in case a burning shingle came our way. I think I was 5 years old then. You scold me when I am afraid when you put a fire in the fireplace. How do I know it will not burn me? You don’t understand why I always go and get a wet towel to hold. I think often of the train trips Papa and I took to visit Mama when she was so sick. It took us a whole day to travel there. You correct me when I ask if we are going to see Mama when you take me for a drive. You tell me Mama died a long time ago.

You have heard the stories so many times you tell me. You turn away. You do not want to listen. Sometimes you even become angry. But these are my stories. These are my memories. They are my yesterdays. And yesterdays are all I have now. They are my present. Please understand.