There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance;
pray, love, remember;
Ophelia, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V
In Hamlet, Ophelia’s descent into madness is captured by her scene with the queen. She dances and sings and murmurs nonsensically in what is a shocking departure from the social norm of the palace. It’s a heart-breaking scene.
And the more I know of life and memory, the more heartbreaking I know it to be. Shakespeare’s use of irony as Ophelia loses her connection with memory while calling others to remembrance is wrenching if not cruel. I haven’t always thought that. Maybe I feel that way because I am watching my mom lose her own battle with memory.
This woman whom I have loved and loved me, who has worked hard and long for my safety and security, who spoiled me and blessed me and gave me all that I am, who I proudly introduced to friends and co-workers, classmates and neighbors, is fading. I’m losing my mom.
She has Alzheimer’s.
But what remains is the connection of family. My father, who has long been one of my heroes, cares for her with astonishing love and tenderness. My sisters care for her with unending grace and humor. My nieces and nephew care for her with bottomless patience and warm affection. All of them challenge me to be more, better, and all of them make me so proud to call them family.
As mom fights for her connection with memory we will carry her memories for her. We will live out the legacy she worked so hard to give us. We will heed the call of Ophelia—we will pray, love, remember.