Lost Photographs

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Psalm 127:3-4 NASB
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
A while ago, we sold our home. We bought it thirty years before when our family was young. Our oldest of four kids was ten when we moved there, and our youngest daughter was soon born.
The morning of the closing, I walked through the empty house. I paused at the laundry room wall, where we once made pencil marks to measure our children’s growth. Though painted over, I imagined the lines rising higher each year they grew.
Walking into the living area, I looked across the emptiness toward the fireplace. The mantle was bare, but I could visualize the Christmas greens and red candles. Excited youngsters roasted hot dogs over the crackling fire while the smell of chili drifted from the kitchen. I don’t know how the tradition started, but we repeated the meal every year.
Where the dining table once sat, I reminisced of Thanksgiving dinners with turkey, mashed potatoes, and noodles. The children passed food and filled their plates while my mother and father watched. I carved the bird as my wife brought browned rolls from the oven.
Entering the hall, I stopped at each door, and my memories pulled me back in time. I remembered the evening my two teenage sons poked a hole through their wall while playing with a foam basketball. I no longer saw the spot in the repaired drywall.
Then I noticed the telephone jack in my oldest daughter’s bedroom. As a teenager, we gave her a phone of her own. Now outdated technology, it thrilled her then. She seldom left her room for the several years.
I paused at the next door and remembered when it was a nursery. Teddy bear wallpaper once adorned the walls, and a pink and white canopy decorated the crib. Beige paint covered the evidence of bygone days.
The last stop on my tour, I entered the master bedroom appreciating the hardwood floor which I’d sanded and varnished a few years earlier. I remembered the nights my wide-eyed children piled into our bed when it stormed. Once, I led them to the basement when a mighty gale removed the top of our majestic maple. Wind knocked over trees all over town, so we were out of power for several days. In their young minds, their father could protect them from the driving rain and damaging gusts.
I locked the front door for the last time and took the key from my keyring. Now all I have of the house which was our home are my memories.
It saddens me to think, my mother no longer remembers past places and joys. The way fire destroys keepsakes, her memories are gone.
Dementia patients most often remember events from long ago, but not Mom. They may even regress and live in those days of their youth.
My mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s Disease, and each year, she thought she was younger. At the end of her life, she believed she was a child in grade school. She wanted to go home because she feared she worried her parents. How pitiful, she had no recollection of her eight children or husband.
How sad to lose the memories of one’s children’s growing-up years. It’s no wonder depression is prevalent for those with dementia. For a while, photo albums or conversations may stir remembrances, but in most cases, the illness eventually erase recollections. In time, our love ones even forget how to care for themselves.
Thank God they have us to look out for them as they once watched over us. We are their gift from God.

© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn