How could she know that pancakes would forever be linked to her grandchildren’s memory of her?
When losing someone is a process, memories come slowly flowing back, regardless of age. As we lose my mother-in-law to the quicksand of Alzheimer’s, each of us remembers differently her personality, her love, her place in our lives. And for each it is very different. For each it is disappearing. For each it is a loss both profound and simple.
For my husband, his mother’s disappearing is overwhelming. She has always been a great strength in his life, at times nurturing and more often dragging him through the growth that is needed to mature, to grow, to become a wonderful man. By no means perfect, their relationship has always been strong and his memories of her make today’s version very difficult and incredible sad. And yet, he, like his brothers, are there. They are there physically, emotionally and lovingly as they watch their mother disappear. The reminiscing for them is in large part still to come.
My daughter has already said goodbye to her grandmother. I can see that when she visits. I can see that when she talks about Grandmom. I can see that in her storytelling. When she visits with her, she is both solicitous and detached. And her memories are lovely. They keep her Grandmom, the one she remembers and chooses to enliven, with her always.
For Natalie, and most likely for many of her other grandchildren, pancakes nearly always trigger memories of Grandmom. Perhaps once indelible time, or perhaps every time she made them pancakes, Grandmom would ask for shape requests. And then she would fulfill them, regardless of the request. Regardless of the difficulty. I’ve not mastered shape-changing pancakes. They are linked solely to Grandmom. They are one of her gifts. They will forever be linked to her and her legendary abilities will pass down.
You never actually know what memory will stick with your children, your grandchildren, how you will be remembered. Make the memories good. That is your true legacy.