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Nostalgia looks like a hedge, sounds like a seagull, & tastes like crumpets

Revisiting old haunts brings nostalgia #England #seaside #nostalgia #over50 @boneAndsilver

Revisiting old haunts brings nostalgia #England #seaside #nostalgia #over50 @boneAndsilver

I’ve been in England for 3 days now, and waking up starving at 4.00am is not a habit I want to keep. I always find jetlag is infinitely worse going home though, thus I’ll stop complaining immediately…

Mum and our cousin met me unexpectedly at the train station, so there were hugs all round, then straight home for a cuppa. I can tell she’s very happy to see me of course, but Mum also asks several times where we’re going, as though she hasn’t just heard the answer a minute ago.

Which is the world she lives in now. Dementia often takes away short-term memory first, and that was one of the initial symptoms we began to notice a few years ago.

‘Shall we have a treat with our tea? How about a crumpet?’

Nostalgia coats my taste buds like raspberry jam and warm runny butter. I’m drawn backwards through the years, remembering blustery walks on the beach with various dogs, coming home to food treats like hot crumpets.

Crackers with sharp vintage cheddar. Fruit & nut chocolate. Crispy fish and chips every Friday. Rhubarb and apple crumble with clotted cream… these are a few of my favourite things.

But if I want them, I’ll have to buy them and/or make them. Because Mum’s not cooking or really shopping any more; she has 3 carers a day to help her with those tasks. Or rather, to do them for her, because it’s quicker and easier.

‘Going home to Mum’s’ no longer means what it did. Sure, I can re-visit old haunts, and search for schoolyard friends in the grey-haired people we pass on the narrow streets, but I’m certainly the elder now in our dynamic. She still calls me by my shortened childhood name (which I’ve always disliked, but it’s time to let that go huh G?), and made a fuss about tucking me in to my makeshift bed the first night.

But that’s about it.

And you know what? I accept that. I honour where she’s at, and where I need to move within myself to meet her. I spent YEARS rebelling, avoiding, resisting, criticizing, ignoring, and blaming; I admit it.

What a terrible challenge I was to Mum, ceaselessly. Ask anyone in our family, and they’ll confirm we had a difficult relationship; I was determinedly the ‘black sheep daughter’. Quite frankly, Australia was only just far enough away for me.

Yet now there’s a beautiful symmetry and peace in just quietly pottering round with Mum, letting her decide which way she wants to walk home, and offering regular cups of tea.

Plus crumpets.

Seagulls squawk as I type this, and my early morning walk led up high-hedged lanes where I used to keep my first fat pony. I’m surrounded by memories like layers of silk at the edge of my vision; if I look too closely, they waft away.

Mum is similar; there’s a soft slipperiness to her now that perhaps offers her some relief from the fretting circles her anxious mind carved for so long? What a blessing to let go of memories that caused such distress.

And I reckon that applies to both of us.

 

In gratitude for learning how to let go when I have to, G xO

 

35 Comments

  1. -hugs- I remember the first time it really hit me that my Dad was ‘coming down with dementia’. Hah. Like a bad cold that never goes away. But it’s possible to live with dementia and still find joy in little things. I suspect your Mum will fade gently, the way my Dad did. Not such a bad way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its a very complicated dance between mothers and daughters. Add in the dementia it becomes so multi-layered. Hugs to you as you hang out with your mom, enjoy nostalgia, and find your way in this fluid situation. You’re a good daughter and it sounds like mom loves to tuck you in. Keep sharing when you’re able. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is lovely, G. I’m glad that it’s not as bad as you were expecting. And so very happy that you are able to spend the time with your mom now. We all do things in our younger days that we’re not happy about with our parents. I know I’m trying to work on making up for those days with my mom as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like you’re visited by beauty and grace ! My mom, same age as yours , is entering a similar phase , and I hope I remain open to grace next time I’m with her .

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a lovely observation Cathy, thank you. I hope you’re right. If there’s anything I can ever do to help, just let me know- early intervention/diagnosis can really help… Blessings on you both, G ❤

      Like

  5. I have found that the anticipation of an event is often worse than the event itself (I call it “pre-exhaustion”).

    While none of this is even remotely “easy,” simply being there means you can deal with the reality in front of you rather than the one imagined (far worse, if I read your posts correctly).

    And raspberry jam and butter make everything better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, yes yes, Matt- I had definitely ‘awfulized’ myself a bit- I don’t like overseas travel, I don’t particularly like England, and as I hinted, I DID have a fairly bad relationship with Mum for a while there… so yes, you read all that dread correctly.

      But I am finding a simple joy, which is amazing. Plus jam and butter indeed 🙂 xO

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing and I hope you create many special moments during your trip. x
    ps…my jetlag’s always worse going to Australia – my family know to be on the lookout for signs of me falling into sudden slump so that can take me home for a kindy kip. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is one of your best pieces of writing yet – the childhood memories, the food and places – it all comes to life in the picture you paint of a life you left behind, willingly – and yet your return does have a certain symmetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fruit-n-nut chocolate! … my tastebuds just went crazy! I don’t think it exists over here. I certainly haven’t seen it anywhere. 🙂

    How amazing is it that this horrid disease has given both of you some peaceful places to dwell within.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pretty amazing indeed… quite a journey 🙏🏼

      You MUST be able to get fruit n nut choccie over there Widds!? Email me and I’ll post you a block- it will only melt a bit… 😊😘

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a touching read and so well written. I love the imagery you use and am in awe of your word choices. Most of all I love your honesty… those of us with elderly parents can see ourselves in you writings and relate so easily to the emotions behind them.

    Love this post…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Its the quite times I miss the most now my parents are gone. Enjoy the tea and crumpets with your Mum, it’s important to treasure these daily rituals, so you’ll have memories to carry on. Take care – hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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