A woman sits in a chair watching children play. They are laughing as they search through an old wooden chest for treasures, occasionally looking at her to wave.
They are her grandchildren, but she does not remember this. She knows they are a part of her life but cannot connect the significance of their relation. To her they are small and beautiful children having a good time. She enjoys watching them.
The tallest girl reaches into the wooden chest and pulls out a white brimmed hat with a wrinkled and dusty bow hanging off the back.
The woman smiles and shakes her head up and down. The hat is familiar to her. It fills her with warmth, love and happiness.
The girl puts it on her head and twirls around for everyone to see.
The woman laughs. The hat reminds her of… what?
She sees four girls playing in a long ago place. A time much different from now. They play games on a freshly cut lawn while a man and woman watch from their lawn chairs. Could it be the same hat she wore when she herself was a young girl?
No, there is more to it than that.
She sees a man holding out his hand to a woman. She takes it, and he leads her close to him. They start to dance – a dance that has lasted over forty years. Is it the hat she put on that long ago day when she married the love of her life?
No. This hat represents much more.
Babies. She can smell the scents of baby powder and spilt milk. She sees a young woman carrying a child while three little ones are fast asleep on her bed. Maybe it’s the hat she put on the day her first child was born. The one she wore while raising four children.
No. There is still something more.
She sees young man wearing a tuxedo. He waits and watches as a beautifully dressed woman in white walks towards him. Maybe it’s the hat she wore the day she became a mother-in-law.
No she senses there is more.
She sees the worry in a man’s face while he kneels down and prays for his son who has just gone off to war. Maybe it was the hat she wore while praying for her son’s safety.
No. That’s not it.
She smells babies again. This time, she hears them cry. The love she feels is the kind of love only a grandparent can have. Yes, that’s it. It’s the hat she put on the day she became a grandmother.
The tall girl takes the hat off and puts it back in the chest. She reaches in a pulls out another one. This one is a darker color and not as pretty. The children examine it then put it back.
A grown woman in her forties bends down to give the woman a kiss. She helps the woman out of the chair and walks her to the bedroom. Who is this grown woman? Is this her daughter?
Alone in her bed, she hears the grown woman talking to the children still playing and laughing. She also hears her husband walking up the steps to their room.
Then she remembers. For a brief moment she remembers all of the hats she had worn in her lifetime. The ones that gave her love and joy. She was blessed and would do it all over again if she could.
Then she remembers the hat the children did not want to play with. It was different. It was restrictive and did not fit right. This hat, the Alzheimer’s, is slowly taking her memories from her. She can see them fading away.
Yes, this is the hat she must wear now. But she is strong. She knows this. For as long as she is alive, she will continue to make memories. Not for her but for her loved ones.