My grandmother, Meme, was one of the world’s greatest quilters. As far back as I can remember she made quilt after quilt for everyone in my family. It truly brought her great joy to give the gift of a handmade quilt and it gave my family years of comfort and warmth. About 6 years ago Meme was diagnosed with dementia and was placed in a memory care assisted living.
When my Dad and his siblings moved Meme into the assisted living, they took many of the quilts she had made and decorated her room with them. They thought the quilts would bring her some comfort, not only for warmth, but also for her memory. This proved to be quite true towards the end of her life. When Meme started to have difficulty recognizing her family, we began asking her about things that she still recalled. Quilting was one part of her life that she never forgot. My family and I would point to one of the many quilts in her room and ask her how she made it. She would then dive into the story of how she picked out the fabric and quilt pattern and then share how long it took for her to make the quilt. The best part of the story was when she would tell which family member she made the quilt for and why. Meme always made a quilt that fit each person’s passions or hobbies. For instance, I have ridden horses my whole life and Meme designed a beautiful horse quilt for me. My Dad is a musician and he has a quilt full of music notes and song lyrics. The stories of each quilt always brought a peace and comfort to Meme. In those moments she was in charge of her memory and knew that what she made with her hands was precious to someone. Even if she didn’t recognize me when I visited her, she knew who I was by the quilt she made for me. And that meant more to her than anything in the world.
It is hard to understand how your Mom, Dad, spouse or grandparent can’t remember you, but the reality is, they never forget who you are, sometimes they might need a quilt or picture or even a song to trigger a memory. Try and talk to them about things you know they remember, things they were great at. Like my Meme who was great at making quilts, maybe your loved one was a musician or someone who enjoyed traveling. These memories can lead to more memories that will most likely include you and your family. So help them remember you and feel good about themselves. Talk to them about their greatness or even a quilt to give them a sense comfort and love.