Happy Birthday Mom, I Hope You’re Celebrating Wherever You Are, Without Dementia

mom-cardine   Birthday 86

Photos of Eleanor Van Meter: (1) Mom on her 86th birthday last year with her wonderful Home Aide, Cardine, January 22nd, (2) Mom, on birthday night, ready for bed after candles and cake

Hard for me to believe that a whole year has gone by since my Mom, Eleanor’s last birthday. Seems like yesterday really. I look at the photos above and can hardly believe how good she looked and feisty she was, as in comparison to the last few weeks last September. If she had been able to hang on for a few months longer, she would have been 87 today. She would be, what I believe, to be the oldest person from this side of the family. It would have been quite a milestone for her and for me, in knowing that we did it…but it was not to be.

Before she moved in with me, we would talk by phone every Sunday night about writing a children’s book together. It’s something that I have always wanted to do and together with her, we could have made a great team, if only her dementia could have been held at bay awhile longer. She had a way with words, and she loved them, writing and combining different words to suit what she was feeling at the time. She could be quite whimsical as well. I could have illustrated the book and she would be a major contributor of the writing…and there you have it, a mother and daughter production…but it was not meant to be…at that time at least. I still have intensions of writing this children’s book, but now, it will be a tribute to her rather than a collaboration. It’s okay…her influence will be obvious in spite of it all.

Mom also loved poetry. She loved reading it and she loved writing it. I have a whole folder of things that she has written, some of which came from her darker days after she had lost the love of her life, Dwight Van Meter. The poem that I cite here was an interesting and simplified look at what she was must have been thinking of her life in that particular year, with regards to how her life has changed over the years. I probably wouldn’t have understood her feelings when I was younger, but I certainly understand it now.

Mom_bch_102x102  Mom-babyme mom_young5

Photos of Eleanor Van Meter: (3) My favorite childhood photo of my mother, she was a cutie at the beach. (4) Mom with me, another favorite with her huge smile, (5) Mom looking great in her summer fashion.

How happy
as a child
I walked into the sun,
Squinting and laughing,
full of mirth,
Secure in a world of light,
The sun
now always at my back,
I turn to see once more
the shining past
Before the night
envelopes me at last,
I remember it was good,
I thank God,
and walk on,
Secure in a world of memories

Eleanor Van Meter

Mom was a very deep person with many feelings that she mostly kept tucked inside, but after reading some of her writings, I can see she let it all out in her poetry. I think that it gave her peace. I remember after she had moved in with me almost 7 years ago, her poetry folder was the most important thing to her. Nobody was allowed to see it and after the dementia started to take a hold, I would find her ripping up a few pages. I sensed that she probably didn’t want anyone knowing that part of her, or maybe, she possibly let out too much of what she was feeling at the time and wanted to keep it secret. It’s okay, I still have a few left that I can look through from time to time as a memory of her. I have a few of the poetry books that she particularly loved with pages earmarked and notes taken on some of the pages which can be very telling also. I think that there was so much more to her than what we saw. Like all of us, she was an original and I will always miss her. Happy Birthday Mom!


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