Earlier this week one of our closest family friends, a lovely man named Cecil, died. He was actually a relative, by marriage — my father’s step-brother — but we considered him (and his wife, still) to be family as close as any blood relative we have.
He became very ill late last year, and everyone (including him) knew that this past Christmas would probably be his last. We were back in Nova Scotia for the holidays, and thought about going to see him at church with my family on Christmas Eve, but we didn’t. Intentionally. I know that seems mean, or chicken, or something, but I still feel it was the right thing to do. I saw the look on my dad’s face when he described how sick and weak Cecil had gotten, and knew I didn’t want to remember him like that. To me Cecil was always a scamp, an imp, a sharp (and sharp-tongued) little guy who loved his land like my dad loves his. It’s still how I think of him now — laughing, and making us laugh.
Maybe it’s selfish to only want to remember him that way. Maybe I’m projecting — I think I’ll want people to remember me in my strongest and best days, and I dread that they’ll remember me in my weakest and worst, but maybe I don’t understand yet what I’ll truly want when those days come. But right now, right this second, I’m picturing him making a joke and smiling so big his face looks like a carved mask. I’m not sure I can even summon up another picture of the man — that smile is the first and last thing I associate with him.
We should all be so lucky.
Cover photo by szczel, used under Creative Commons license
2 thoughts on “Choosing memories”
I have to respectfully disagree. My mother had Alzheimer’s. Certain family members refused to see her because they “wanted to remember her the way she was”. She cried because they wouldn’t come. It’s not loving someone only when they are healthy and funny and bright. It’s about loving them in any condition. How you are at the end of life is just as much a part of who you are as how you are at any other time. One of my fears is to be left alone at the end of life. Even if I’m shrunken and wrinkled and not all there. I would hope my family would love me enough to still care.
Fair enough. As I said, I might have made a decision based on a projection of how I *think* I’d feel in the same scenario, not how I might actually feel.