"Oh, Jeff is home; why is Jeff home today and not working today?"
Yesterday was Labor Day. My parents came over late afternoon for our usual Labor Day barbeque. It was about 4:45 when they arrived; on a regular day, my husband doesn't usually get home from work until 5:30 and she very quickly noticed that he was home before his normal time (I think it's easy for her to remember what time he gets home as it is the same time as her dinnertime).
"Mom, today is Labor Day, remember??"
As I tried to remind my mom about the holiday that lands every first-weekend-of-September, my mom stared intently at the food she placed on the counter and quickly changed the subject, asking about the salad I made, and if it had "tomatoes in it too".
Oddly enough, I had just read a post in my online support group that morning, talking about the very issue of a loved one (with dementia) forgetting what holidays and birthdays are.
So far, my mom has an excellent memory of birthdays and anniversaries. Every so often she goes to the Dollar Tree to stock up on birthday and anniversary cards for the upcoming months, because "they are such a good price, only a dollar!" She will fill them out and place them by her bedside a month before the occassion, every day reminding herself and others that so-n-so's birthday is on such-n-such date and "I even have a card to send her too." She loves to serenade us with song for our special days. Her favorite, which she recently admitted to me that she sings in her head at bedtime, is the Anniversary song (to the tune "William Tell Overture" by Rossini):
Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary....." (and on, and on, and on...)
Holidays are another issue. She remembers the big ones: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter. I've noticed that she doesn't seem to remember the smaller holidays, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day. I remember this past Valentine's day...she was completely confused as to why my dad brought her flowers,
"Our anniversary isn't until February 28th."
Even with an explanation, she couldn't seem to recall what Valentine's Day is. Little by little, she is forgetting the meanings of these significant days.
With the holiday season drawing near, I feel a little bit of despair. Everything is changing, and it's changing fast. Last Christmas was so much different than the year before. What will this Christmas bring? Is this going to be the last year that she remembers what we are celebrating?
I know that time is precious. None of us know how much time we have. I am realizing now, more than ever before in my life, how important it is to make the most of the time we have. I feel an urgency to make this holiday season spectacular, and to make as many memories as possible.