December 16 2017 was the centenary of my mother’s birth. She lived from 16 December 1917 until 02 December 2002. I have assembled a few old photographic memories that illustrate her life a little bit.
She was always a very strong-willed and determined woman. This lasted her right through to the end when the fog of Alzheimer’s had closed right in, but not entirely. In her final years she could remember every grievance she ever suffered as a child, but almost nothing of what happened yesterday. Her most repetitive topic of conversation was that she wanted to see her mother and her sister again. She wanted to be with them.
On the day Lynne and I and my dad checked her into Spruce Lodge in Stratford, I pushed her in a wheel chair down the hall from Woodland Towers. It was a Friday afternoon. Before we got onto the elevator, she jammed her cane against the wall and stopped everything in its tracks. She demanded to know where I was taking her. When I explained, she set her cane on her lap and let me get her onto the elevator.
When we got her into her new room, the intake worker asked my dad about her age, her date of birth, and other details of her life. He was answering them when suddenly my mother spoke up and told the worker that “I am right here. If you want to know anything about me, you should talk to me.”
The worker agreed and asked “when were you married?” My mother thought for a moment and replied, “To tell you the truth, we never were. The war was on at the time and the English sailors would go to the dances and we just stayed together.”
The first thing Lynne and I did after that was go back to their apartment, bring back their wedding photo and put it beside her bed.
When we went back the next day, she told me she didn’t like it there. The place was full of old dafties, and she wanted to see her mother. On Sunday she took to her bed and on Monday she died.
Strong even in frailty and determined even in dementia.