Does she know that she forgot what she once knew?

Many of my readers know that I once in a while write about my great-aunt Margot, who is 93. I am her caretaker and she had to move into an elderly home after a severe stroke and heart attack last summer. She is an awesome woman and I write about her because she is a huge part of my private life. So once in a while I share.

margotguitar1

This week I went to visit aunt Margot, it is always a quite long trip as she lives about 4 1/2 hours away from here. When I arrived she was still taking her nap after lunch and so I had my usual meeting with the nurses first to talk about how she is doing, what her needs are and so on. So one of the nurses, who is organizing a lot of the social activities told me that aunt Margot is doing well, is very much-loved and that she is participating in a lot of those events. And then she told me that at a music gathering they took out my aunt’s guitar as she was talking so much that she wants to play guitar. And that aunt Margot was sitting there all of a sudden and didn’t know anymore how to play, and how she helplessly let her hands sink, the guitar still on her lap and said “I don’t know…I don’t know how to do this anymore”….and how this made her really upset. The nurse told me I should rather pack the guitar and take it with me as to not have this happening again.

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I cannot even tell you how sad this made me. It felt as if someone had punched me hard into my stomach – I instantly started to tear up and I think that of all the things she has forgotten the last couple months, this made me the saddest. Ever since she was a teenager, she had played guitar. Her guitar and her- inseparable. There are gazillions of photos of her and her friend – later with her husband – doing bicycle tours – the guitar on the back -photos of her playing – memories of mine of many many family parties of her playing her guitar.

margotguitar

The photo above was taken at a friend of mine in 1996 where she just picked up his electric guitar and started playing. Just the thought of how she must have felt in that very moment made me sad.

So I went into her room and after lots of hugging and talking and laughing – I realized her guitar case in the corner. She followed my look and then she said: “ohh we had a thing last week and I played guitar – we had so much fun!”

I looked at her and she was all happy and told me of the songs she played and how she still knows them all and the lyrics to the songs too.

margotguitar3

How can I have possible taken the guitar case with me at this moment?

What can I say…I just hope that she really doesn’t know that she forgot what she once knew!

have a wonderful day

hugs

Nat

Comments

  1. Bless you for being such a good caretaker. So glad you left the guitar with her. I take care of my 90 yr old disabled mother. What upsets them one day may be a favorite the next day. There may even be days when you aunt remembers how to play. I keep lots of things stashed in the closets near where she sits during the day so they are handy on days that she wants them and out of sight on days when she is having a hard time.

  2. Oh Nath, I can really relate. My aunt is 88, has never married and lives alone, and my uncle, her bother is 86, a widower, and no children, and lives in an assited living facility. My uncle started forgetting things last year and my aunt and I were worried for him because he was forgetting to turn off the water in the sink or to turn off the stove. He wasn’t eating right and was very loenly. I got him to go to a adult day care, but when he started forgetting to take his medication, my aunt and I decided it was time to get him more help. We were fortunate to find him an excellent assisted living place and now has a companion who loves to dance as much as him and spends every week doing that during happy hour. It’s so nice to see him enjoying life once again. Now, my aunt is beginning to forget things too and I find it very sad because she’s been the family historian and knows all the dates when everyone was born, etc., and reached different milestones. I keep telling her to write things down so I can pass it along to the family before she forgets everything. Such is life, Nath. We just have to take one day at a time and do the best we can to help each other out. Love your story, thanks for sharing!

  3. What a beautiful story, and so honored that you shared a piece of your heart with us. Your aunt’s story has stayed on my desktop ever since you sent it out, I read it every few days and see so many different things each day. One day it’s the devotion and love, then it’s a lesson on how we all will lose precious memories too, the next time it is a story of an amazing life lived & beautiful memories, then I see the art that her life has created in you…..a new lesson each time! It’s staying there for a bit more time so I can continue to savor it! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love your site & art & pieces of your life.

  4. Sue Clarke says:

    I always love reading about your Aunt. Yes, how sad but how much hope that she thinks that she had a good time playing it. Maybe just seeing it gives her pleasure! Hugs.

  5. What a blessing that she forgot, that she forgot. I went through this with my Mom and I so feel for you, Sweetie. Hugs! xx

  6. Such a lovely story about your love for your aunt…made me feel so good. Sorry about the guitar, but it was a lovely story and so heart felt. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laura S says:

    Thank you for sharing such a tender moment. Bless you for taking care of your sweet Aunt and going to visit her. It is not easy making decisions for others; be it a child, friend, or a loved one. Follow your heart and with time and prayer, your answers will come. Keeping you and your Aunt in my prayers.

  8. mjmarmo says:

    I am sure that was difficult for you. Your aunt sounds like such an amazing person. She is lucky to have you in her life!

  9. Robinn G says:

    Thanks for sharing about your aunt. What a beautiful and sad story about a wonderful lady! I hope she can remember how to play!

  10. Sherri Sinclair says:

    I love the stories of your aunt, she is so pretty. I would leave her guitar. Sounds like she doesn’t remember being upset and for that I am grateful.

  11. You know Nat, sometimes taking something away, like her guitar, may end up not doing what the people think it might. Your aunt may see that empty space one day and remember that her guitar used to be there. She told you that she was playing the other day right? even tho’ she had forgotten how to, her memory was of playing it and having a great time singing and so on. I would leave it sitting in the case in the corner of her room and let her be happy with thinking that she had had such a wonderful day. Who is it going to hurt. This is just my opinion and I am no doctor by any means but …
    hugs and thanks for sharing your stories.

  12. Nurse Ratchet says:

    Nat … You did and always do what is right and good for Aunt Margo. You love and care for her and you know her best. Listen to your heart and you will always know what to do.you have been blessed to have this fabulous lady in your life!! Love ya!!

  13. Kelly Belton says:

    Aunt Margot is so real to me, because of the evocative way you always write about her. Poignant words Nat – as always. You are a good and compassionate soul – you write about your Aunt with such love.
    Blessings to her and to you…

  14. this brought tears to my eyes… it can be very painful to see loved ones getting old… i am certain one thing she will never forget, and that’s all the love you have given her throughout the years… she will always know! hugs to you!

  15. Kathy P says:

    God bless you for your loving care of this special woman in your life! And you did exactly the right thing leaving her guitar there!

  16. On another note Nat, I totally know what you were talking about re the pastels. I was thinking oil pastels. Last night I bought a 6.99 full set of dry stick pastels!!!! NOW I know what you were recommending. I get it. THANK YOU so much my friend! Lovies, Samara

  17. Nat – I get it. My dad had a stroke last Christmas Eve. Vital as a horse and now doesn’t recognize me. Also in a nursing home for life. One of these black and whites should be used for the “Whatevers” It is absolutely beautiful….she is gorgeous!!!!! I hope you will consider it. She is stunning and perhaps it would give you some solace. I love your story, how you have commemorated her. Nat, take the guitar when you are ready. It is like my mom. She won’t empty a closet at home because it means he is no longer. Maybe that guitar needs to just sit in the corner of her room as a wonderful memory. Maybe it is such a part of her and will trigger a memory. With strokes, as you know, it comes and goes. I hear you sweet one. Love Samara

  18. dennissed1 says:

    lovely story. God bless the family

  19. Just beautiful. Thank you, and God bless Aunt Margot.

  20. Mary Werner says:

    Your post made me tear up twice – once when I was so sad that she realized she forgot and then again when I was so happy that her memories are so real and happy ones took over the sad. Shows what a strong and happy person she was/IS! How nice to have her influence in your life even now.

  21. Alice Hildebrandt says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Nat…My mother had a stroke 10-years ago…I do notice things are different with her and It still breaks my heart when I think of my rock and inspiration falling like that so long ago, but still affected by it.I would keep the guitar there, even strumming on the strings might bring comfort to her. My mother has found her comfort in her paint brush even with her hand (it was affected by stroke).

  22. Louise Dahlgren says:

    Wow. That just breaks my heart. Maybe, bringing guitar music via CD and play it for her. It may help her. She may not be able to actually play but she can still pickup her guitar and “string” along. We all need to be grateful each day for what we have and pray for thankfulness.

  23. My grandpa had Alzheimer’s and I now run a small nonprofit that makes memory books for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. If there is one thing I have learned it is to go along with the stories and just listen even though they may not be the complete truth it is truly what they believe. And sometimes these stories trigger another memory that is true and you may not have heard. You did the right thing and I loved reading your story. Thank you for sharing your story. Hang in there as this can be a difficult road for the loved ones to go down 🙂

  24. Nat, I was so incredibly moved by your story. I went back and read the other two posts you had linked and while they made me sad, they made me laugh, too, especially the “flying shit!” I lost my dad back in September and my step-brother was the executor of his estate. He let me take the things that my dad left for me and my children specifically in his will but would not let me have anything else. He was planning to have a big estate sell and was more interested in making money from my dad’s belongings than letting me, his only child by blood, have any of them. When I asked for a pool stick (my dad taught me how to play pool as a young teen) he wouldn’t even let me have one of those and he had many. It was and still is heartbreaking. My step-brother told me I was greedy and was only getting what was left to me. I think it’s wonderful that your aunt has you to help her. I know how hard it is to live further away than you would like, my dad lived 9 hours away. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your aunt with the rest of us. It makes my heart happy to know that there are those like you that care more about the person and their happiness than their money. Hugs, Sweetie!

  25. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. The photos are gorgeous and so is your story.

  26. Very heart warming story Nat, thanks for sharing it. I really love those photos!

  27. Barbara Poe says:

    Natalie, go see the movie “Quartet”. I saw it yesterday. I t was wonderful. Too bad it was fiction. I found the home that I want to go to. I have no talent but I sure could appreciate the others. Your aunt may forget how to play but she will never forget her love for music. How lucky you aunt is to have you.

  28. Gerd Andersson says:

    What a moving story!

  29. *sigh*
    Thank you for sharing this. My grandmother is sliding into dementia, and we are here on the other side of the world from her. I can’t imagine the frustration and loneliness of confusion of forgetting and remembering other times. Hugs to you.

  30. Jenny Palmer says:

    I know how you feel Nat.

  31. Such a sweet story with so many mixed feelings, so glad that you shared this. I loved seeing the photos of your Aunt so happy, I pray she remembers lots of those days

  32. It’s heartbreaking to watch a loved one slide into dementia. It is a blessing for them if they don’t realize it is happening but so very difficult for those who are aware of the progression of this terrible state of mind. Hold tight to your happy memories and always see your lovely aunt as the woman who made those memories for you. xxx

  33. Nathalie, you are so right for listening to your aunt’s heart!

  34. Lovely story about your aunt, Nathalie. It reminds me of one of my aunts – she died a few years ago now, aged 98 – and, like your aunt, was forgetting things in her latter years. I noticed that her memories would come & go for a time (and yes, she would get upset too, over & over again at some things – that just goes with territory) before she lost those memories completely, so I wouldn’t rush to remove the guitar case just yet while she still knows it & it triggers happy memories.

  35. Rhonda Strickland says:

    That was a very touching story. You are a kind and thoughtful person. :o)

  36. Sherry M says:

    I love your pieces xxx

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