IMG_3960I was writing in my journal about all the creative goals I might pursue–or not–when I saw my writing for what it was: fear and procrastination. So, I made myself sit down and draw something, no fussing about for a sketchbook or the right pencil, just draw.

So, I drew the “luminaries” my parents gave me this week. My dad made them in a ceramics class in Pasadena in the early 1960s. On Tuesday, when they gave them to me, he remembered making them: “It was fun,” he said. The next day, he asked me about the  ceramic pieces on the table, what they were and where I’d gotten them.

The weird thing is, while I drew the luminaries, I listened to NPR, and a story about Glen Campbell aired, a story about he and his family documenting, enduring, and adapting to his Alzheimer’s disease.

When they described his sense of humor and his jokes like, “What’s Alzheimer’s?” in a tone leaving you wondering if he’s being sarcastic or has actually forgotten, it was like listening to a story about my dad.

While I drew the luminaries, I admired the uniform thickness of the walls, the sure-cut holes (done when the clay is dry but not yet fired, so it’s easy to crush the entire piece), and the warm, dark glaze neatly applied without dripping onto the white insides.

I’m not sure what to make of this moment, of me drawing pottery my dad made in his thirties while listening to a story about dementia that describes the humor and humility he uses now in his eighties to navigate his mind’s unruly transformation, but it was a sweet moment.

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2 Responses to Luminaries

  1. Rose L. says:

    It is difficult dealing with the phases of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your story is bittersweet. There is an underlying sadness in his forgetting. My husband would sometimes forget who I was, what year, his name and lots of little daily events. Then there were days of near clarity. For me it was difficult seeing him “fade” as time went on. At the end, he was no longer the man I had fallen in love with and married 36 1/2 years before, the man with whom I had shared so many wonderful events and experiences, the man who took me camping and taught me to fish, the man who enjoyed taking me on weekend drives, the man who praised all my needlework and photos as if the most amazing thing he eve saw, the man who always brought me flowers, and who always remembered that I loved milk chocolate covered cherries with liquid centers. That man I hold within my heart and enjoy the many memories.

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