Remembering your happiness

Jerry A. Smith - 1933
Jerry A. Smith - 1933

“I came in on the 18th of January, 1933 at 715 Manier Ave. Piqua, Ohio. My mother was living with her folks. My dad was living with his folks on Cottage Ave. There was a big fight over there. I caused a lot of trouble. Lots of trouble, I was told, by my mother for one. My granddad Wirrig, he wasn’t happy about it at all. Uncle Paul said it got a little exciting around the house.” Jerry A. Smith

My dad was born right in the middle of the Great Depression. I always thought that name was ironic, there wasn’t anything great about it, if you use the definition of great as being “a generalized term of approval,” which we often did. “We had a great time.” Not so about the depression of 1929 – 1940s.

I was printing out some photos to take with me to my parents when I visit this week. I printed all the ones of my dad when he was young and with his parents—there is just a handful of these and I wonder how they even were able to afford those at the time. I also printed out photos of my grandmother and my dad’s siblings.

I bought a photo album at Christmas that I haven’t given to Dad yet. I read somewhere in Alzheimer literature that it can be a good idea to sit with your parent and create a memory photo album together to help them later if they forget. When my dad was initially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the winter of 2008, he said with tears clogging his speech, “I just don’t want to forget who you are.” Neither do I, Dad. Neither do I.

Grandma and Dad 1933
Grandma and Dad 1933

Anyway, after I bought the photo album, I decided not to give it to him. I didn’t want it to be a fait accompli. Maybe he wouldn’t forget. And he hasn’t so far. But I’m taking the photos and album up this week.

Yesterday Mom called and said that Dad seemed confused and not certain where he was so she asked him, “Do you know who I am?” She is used to being forgotten. Her mother forgot her on and off for the last 5 – 10 years of her life. Dad answered, “You’re Mary Lemmon.” Which is true, sort of. She was Mary Lemmon before she married him. I don’t know whether he was lost in the past, or just trying to be precise.

I love this picture of my dad with his mom. It was a rough start for her into a rougher life as it turns out my grandfather was mentally ill and passed through a stage of alcoholism before that was all sorted out. But that’s another story for another time.

Grandma looks so happy holding my dad. Children can do that for you—make you forget your sorrows, or perhaps a better way of phrasing it would be, they help you remember your happiness.


Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote