My book, Memories of MaMaw, is a memoir regarding my experience of losing my grandmother. I didn’t lose her in the traditional sense–at least, not right away. You see, my Mamaw was diagnosed with dementia, a blanket term for a decline in mental ability that is severe enough that it interferes with everyday life.
Many families suffer through losing a loved one to dementia. Below, you’ll find an excerpt from my book, Memories of Mamaw, which I know so many of you can relate to. I hope you enjoy it.
School always started for me the Tuesday following Labor Day. I grew up in an era when kids could learn everything they needed during a school year that ran from Labor Day to Memorial Day. My generation must have done a lousy job raising their kids. The state of Indiana felt it was their responsibility to make up for our poor parenting by deciding the kids needed to be in the classroom more. To accommodate this, they took away nearly a whole month of their summer vacations.
My time with Mamaw didn’t end once school began. Every Sunday she would pick all of us kids up and take us to church. Mom went when she could, but she worked so much that she could not go many Sundays. Mom and Mamaw wanted to make sure that we grew up with the church as a part of our lives. I attended the Friends Church on Main Street for most Sundays of the school year, until the summer trips to the lakes began. Mamaw made sure I rarely missed a Sunday, which allowed me to serve as an usher for many years, seating everyone who entered my side of the church. I went to Sunday school and took part in a few Christmas plays over the years. I didn’t go any other day of the week, but Mamaw went every Wednesday night for the women’s sewing circle. The women sat in a circle facing inward and would work on quilting, crocheting, needlework, or some other sewing project to keep their hands busy while they visited and talked about the bible and their families. I’m sure she talked about us grandkids a lot during those meetings. Lord knows we created plenty of stories for her to share.
The best part of Sundays and going to church with Mamaw was afterwards, because she always took us out to eat somewhere for lunch. I got to eat at different restaurants that were her favorites like MCL Cafeteria, Long John Silver’s, and this little diner-like restaurant inside Grant’s Department Store. My first choice was always the L&K Restaurant on the southern edge of town. It had great food, but more importantly to me was that Evel Knievel had supposedly eaten there. They had a picture on the wall of him out in front of the restaurant as proof. Evel Knievel was popular for two things when I was growing up. The first was all the big jumps he made on his motorcycle. He would jump over cars, buses, and anything else he thought would draw a crowd – especially if it would set a world record. The second thing he was really popular for was the jumps he didn’t make. He wrecked a lot, probably more times than he successfully made the jumps. He claimed to have broken every bone in his body from all the wrecks he’d had. More likely than not, the missed jumps were the main reason for his popularity, and people only watched him to see if he’d crash. But not me. I always wanted him to make the jumps and set new records. So eating at L&K was cool to me, and the food was good, too.