Watching a parent succumb to dementia can make even middle-aged children feel like orphans. The disease cuts a cruel path through families and sometimes it seems like dementia made my mother abandon her children. I’m very lucky that Mom selected a wonderful godmother for me when I was an infant. Since my mom can no longer go places, I invited my godmother to the Philadelphia Flower Show. We had a great day.
It seems that 1950′s relationships — like washing machines of that period — were crafted to endure more and last longer. My godmother, Ann, was my mom’s best friend from elementary school to retirement. Few people today manage to bind the threads of their lives together across so many decades of change. Mom and Ann helped each other through the trials of adolescence, marriage, childbirth, motherhood, and professional upheaval.
Ann remembered the last time I took my mother to the Flower Show. It was about three years ago and even then Mom’s eye sight was diminishing. She could, however, see the bold colors of the giant displays. The vivid reds, purples, and greens boosted her happiness as we strolled through the wild, gorgeous gardens.
The next day, my godmother called Mom to find out about our outing. When Ann asked Mom if she’d been to the Flower Show, my mother said no. She had already forgotten the whole thing. It was painful to realize how quickly Mom’s memories were disappearing. Even a huge event failed to make a lasting impression on her. Nevertheless, thanks to the magic of cameras, I had all the evidence I needed to remember my day with my mother.
This week I took fifty photos of giant sculptures made from orchids, hyacinths, roses, lilies — every flower you know and a hundred others with names you don’t recognize. I have shots of the acrobats that danced above the show entrance and the 100 year old bonsai trees. But among all those pictures there is one I really cherish. It captured the smiling face of my dear godmother who loyally visits with my mom after all these years. She shows us both the deepest kind of love there is. Thank goodness for people who care.