Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A day late... August 5th 2013 One Hundred Years

          There are some people that come into our lives who we will never forget. An impression is left so beautifully in our hearts that the memory can never be wiped away even years after they have left this earth. Today marks the one hundredth birthday of my Mae. Despite her passing over a decade ago I think of her every day.
            Some of my earliest childhood memories contain the unconditional love that Mae brought to my life. I remember getting excited to visit her when I was around three years old. I knew that her home was a sanctuary of sorts and the only thing I would receive upon crossing the threshold of her comfortable apartment was love and positivity. She used to bestow small gifts upon my sister and me whenever we would visit her; dolls, costume jewelry, photos, elephant figurines (her and my favorite animal) etc. I will never forget the rainy day that we went to visit her and she was beside herself because she had forgotten to get us a gift. I remember the tears in her kind eyes, flanked with perfect crinkles, as she told us with the deepest regret that she had neglected to have something for us. I remember reassuring her that I did not need anything from her and that I was so happy just to be there with her. She hugged me tighter than she ever had before and told me that I was “a good little girl.”
            Shortly after my family relocated to Idaho, Mae followed. She lived with us for some time which I am unable to quantify since it was so many years ago. My mom gave her the boot after Mae was repeatedly caught smoking cigarettes in her room. We moved her to an apartment close to downtown Boise. My sister and I got to spend nearly every weekend with her. We would sit for hours in her studio apartment adorned in her vast array of gaudy jewelry putting on fashion shows for her and her collection of elephants. Around Christmas time she would enliven and become so jolly that the time we would spend with her would fly by. As exciting as Christmas Day is for a child, it was that much more incredible because she literally brought Christmas spirit to our lives.
            As I grew up I only grew closer to Mae. Eventually my family had to check her into assisted living owing to her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It was tragic to witness the last sparks of her memory dissipating with each passing visit. Some days she thought I was my sister Michele. Some days she thought I was a nurse. Some days she thought I was a boy trying to steal her candy. On the best days she recognized me for a few minutes before losing any inclining of who I was. There was no doubt in my mind, however, that she remembered the idea of me. One day, near the end of her time, she proudly handed me a butterfly which she had finger-painted. She told me that she had painted it for her granddaughter Malina. It is/was the most beautiful piece of art I have ever laid eyes on because she painted it out of love. 
            The last day I went to see her, my sister Maecee and I had ridden our bikes for a visit. We sat with her as she watched “Bay Watch.” She had the volume muted and the murmur of staff voices in the hallway filtered in from time to time. Whenever anyone would laugh, she would laugh too. That day she had no idea who I was. When it was time to leave I said my goodbye to the deceivingly vacant expression that she had. I was almost out her door when she called my name. I turned back to her and she asked me if I was aware that she would love me always, no matter what. I replied with an ‘of course,’ out loud followed quickly with an ‘even if you died tomorrow’ in my mind.
            The next morning I awoke to commotion downstairs. I knew the second I had a conscious thought that Mae had left this earth. I felt as though the ground had been ripped from under my feet. I had lost the physical form of one of the most important people in my life. However, everlasting were the memories of her. As painful as those memories from her final days are, I feel they act as a constant reminder to embrace the ones you love. I hold all of the love that she gave me close to my heart. That love will never die.
The Finger Painting

Totally wore an elephant print jumpsuit today :) Don't mind my terrible iPhone photo

Elephants from my jumpsuit :)

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