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.

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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.

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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.

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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 (37)

  • samara

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    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

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  • dennissed1

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    lovely story. God bless the family

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  • Mary Hicks

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

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  • Mary Werner

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    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.

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  • Alice Hildebrandt

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    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).

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  • Louise Dahlgren

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    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.

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  • Stacy

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    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 :)

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  • Lea Kimmel

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    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!

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  • Marjolaine Walker

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

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