My mom has Alzheimer’s, for her that means that she has forgotten most things about her life, but, thankfully, she hasn’t yet forgotten me. Every Monday afternoon I read to a group of ladies in her nursing home from my book, The Tin Box Secret. Since the story takes place on Long Island in 1968-69, it brings back memories for the ladies. Every once in a while, I will mention something in the book from my childhood and my mom will respond. Those moments are so exciting for me. To be able to bring back a memory for her is a real gift to us both.
One time I was reading a chapter in which I mentioned “mush marsh.” It was a dessert that my siblings and I used to enjoy when we were kids. We would put chocolate wafer cookies in a coffee cup filled with milk. As the cookies absorbed the milk, they would become “mushy,” thus the name. Mom started to laugh at the mention of “mush marsh” and she nodded her head in remembrance of a time long gone. Everyone around the table stopped to recognize this important moment. The Recreation Therapist asked her if she remembered it, and she said she did. I’ve always wondered if she came up with the idea and named it, so I asked her, “Mom, where did mush marsh come from? Did you name it?” Of course, she replied with a smile and a laugh, “I don’t remember.” I guess that is one of those things, with the loss of her memory, that will forever remain a mystery for me.
So I went back to reading again, hoping something else would be there in my words to help her regain another piece of who she used to be, no matter how small. And each week, I return and read to her and her friends again. Sometimes she proudly tells the other women who are sitting around the table, “That’s my daughter.” The Recreation Therapist tells her, “She’s an author, she wrote this book.” Mom seems impressed. The Therapist asks her, “What’s her name?” Mom doesn’t have to think twice, she says, “Theresa” and, for the moment, I know my mom knows that I wrote a novel and that she is proud of me.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy