My mom recently entered a Nursing Home. There is a good chance she will never go home again as she needs too much care. She is only 73 (a young age now that I am almost 50). It has been difficult to watch my mother’s decline in both her health and mental state. She is unable to walk without support, she sleeps a lot, she gets confused, she has memory problems…. she is not the same woman I knew growing up. My mother used to be energetic and full of life with a quick wit. I remember singing songs with her in the car, ones we both knew, and ones she made up. Her songs were about our dogs and their adventures, what it was like driving a school bus, even about getting an eyelash stuck in her eye. And of course, they were always funny. She had a great sense of humor and fun. One night she was unhappy with how her potato pancakes turned out so she started flinging them like Frisbees at us, which we of course returned amid much laughter. She ran through the house, chasing the dog with a can of whipped cream yelling, “Mad dog! Mad dog!” We got bored one evening and so she had us start making up titles and authors to imaginary books. My favorites included, “They Threw Me Out” by Cherry Pitts and “Screaming in the Night” by Claude Balls. Somewhere in my boxes of old photos, there is a family portrait of us all wearing glasses with big noses and mustaches. We were very poor, but I never knew it. When we ran out of heating oil, she would make a fire in the wood stove and bring out a pan of caramels to melt on top of it. As we dipped our sliced apples in the caramel she would comment about how much fun it was to have that time together. When it was too cold for us kids to sleep upstairs, she brought our beds downstairs and made us feel like we were camping. During canned food drives, she would dig through our cupboards for donations. I grabbed some canned peas thinking that would be good enough and she tut-tutted me explaining that poor people would want better things, like tuna, baked beans and soups. So she gave away our food to those less fortunate. She always made sure I made it to summer camp – and she would take us to the beach, to community plays, concerts, the zoo, the science center and (my favorite) the Pittock Mansion where we could see how rich people lived long ago. Wonderful memories! Of course there are not so wonderful memories as there always is in families over time – but as my mom lies in a Nursing Home, I try to remember the good things we shared – the fun we had – who she used to be. Those are the things I want to take forward with me in life – and try to replicate with my own children. Her optimistic spirit may have diminished with her illness, but it is not lost forever. It continues to live within me – and I hope it will be there for generations to come.