I could finally let it go.

keywallet2I have a host of small memento’s to my parent’s lives all over my home. Last month I saw that I still had my dad’s key wallet when I was digging through the key drawer. It’s in sad shape and had been when my Dad still carried it with him. What used to hold seven keys was now only managing two — and one of them was to a storage closet in their retirement community that was no longer theirs, but it didn’t matter so on the key wallet it remained.

That key wallet was part of my Dad’s habits. He never misplaced it, and always picked it up and put it in his pocket when we left their apartment … all the way into a moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. When I saw it last month, I thought about dropping it into the trash, but just wasn’t ready to do it. It brought to me a host of great memories.

It ended up in my key drawer because after my Dad passed away and my Mom came across it in her apartment, she asked me to take it to him in the hospital. The months after my Dad passed away were really difficult for us all, but most for my Mom who couldn’t remember he had died, because she was in a moderate stage of Vascular Dementia.

Why would I want to keep it?

I could still imagine it in my Dad’s hand and then him quickly dropping it into his pocket. When I held it, I could imagine he was still here for a moment. So I put it back in the key drawer. I wasn’t ready to toss it quite yet.

When my husband decides to attack the key drawer today, I notice this is sitting in the odd-ball pile. I pick it up, exhale, and let it drop into the trash. I’m ready to let go of this memento.

I don’t need to hold onto this sad key wallet with useless keys. I have a host of rich memories and traditions that allow me to let go and move on. It’s time. Celebrated. 

Beauty in the Breakdown – You Sure?

letgoMusic uplifts my mood. It helps me focus and makes me happy. I will typically be listening to techno-pop — it’s better than caffeine if I want a pick-me-up.

I first heard Let Go by Frou Frou when watching Garden State (I thought it was on at the closing of an episode of Gray’s Anatomy — a show I never really watched, but Internet sources won’t validate my recollective memory on that point). It’s been in my head, but never on my iPod, so I finally downloaded it last week. I like the tune and the focus on “letting go and jumping in.”

However, today this song brought me to tears as the words hit me very differently. For a few weeks I’ve noticed a decline in my Mom. When I arrive at her community she is in the living room playing bridge with a new group of residents. Now that she has spotted me, she wants to leave the game, but I encourage her to return – they can’t play without her. She insists we go to her apartment while the bridge group is taking a break. Within a few minutes there is a knock on the door asking her to return and she is really rude to bridge player that has come to invite her back to the game. I decide I have to walk her back to the game and I stay within eyesight so she knows I won’t leave until we can spend some time together. 

We visit after the game is over and she is having trouble talking with me today. I’m confounded and amused as she complains that they were beginner bridge players. She can’t remember what day it is, so I wonder how she can remember her bids and those of her table mates. I’m told long-term memory hangs on and she is a bridge life master. There are so many aspects of her day that are mysteries to me.

After my father’s death, I realized that much of the grieving and acceptance I did as my parents were moving into dementia allowed me to manage while they were still on the planet, but I have been humbled by the depth of loss I have felt over my Dad. If he didn’t have dementia and I was not his caregiver, would his loss be as profound? I shall never know.

As I’m leaving the Assisted Living community today, I play my recently downloaded song. I knew the gist of words, but today I hear there is “beauty in the breakdown” and burst into tears.

This experience has changed me in many ways. I recognize that I’m a much kinder, gentler version of my former self. For that I’m grateful. However, I can’t find any beauty today in the loss of my mother. Searched.

So, let go,
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It’s alright
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
So, let go, yeah let go
Just get in
Oh, it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown