This I believe: God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and on the 7th day He rested......but while He was supposedly resting, He was really creating dark chocolate.....for ME! 70-72% bittersweet, dark creamy heavenly tasting CHOCOLATE. I have stashes of this dark pleasure hiding in various spots around my house so that I can snatch a nibble ( okay, it's more like a chunk) whenever my heart desires. The combination of the mouth watering sweetness followed by the savory bitterness of this wonderful creation is much like the aging process of our loved ones. The sweetness is the easiest part. It's the bitterness that, by itself, is tough to swallow.
I adored my paternal and very British grandmother who teetered around on her skinny bird legs while calling people Daphne Lightheart and Archibald when she couldn't think of their names. When she had to use the restroom she used to say things like, "I've got to go spend a penny!" I spent many hours enjoying her company and her marvelous sense of humor. She was always my room mate when my brother and I would accompany my Dad on his business trips. What an adventure we would have with lots of laughs, pillow fights, good food and just being together. When she grew old she suffered from Alzheimer's. Her sad decline nearly broke my heart. I was truly relieved when she died at the ripe old age of 98 (dear God take me home before that age!).
I remember the bitter day when reality hit me that Grandmom was loosing it. I was with Dad looking at colleges and we had brought Grandmom along for the outing. Dad was so good to bring her along on our little excursions and I really did love having her with us. That particular day she was just not right. She seemed more agitated than her usual jovial British self and she looked disheveled. What was going on? After viewing Gettsyburg College, we set out to find a nice place to eat (always an added bonus on our excursions and really the only reason why I came!). Grandmom was so confused. She kept rattling on about how she couldn't find her car keys and her purse (they were right there on her lap) until finally she burst into tears. My heart nearly broke for my Dad and for my Grandmom. I don't remember the rest of that trip but I do remember that Grandmom was never the same after that. That day was a mix of sweetness with a little too much bitterness.
As I watch my parents grow old, my thoughts are in constant memory mode. Visually, they are just like any other aging parent or grandparent, but then they do something, or say something that gives me a flash of my past and then I am thrust down memory lane when we were all so much younger and so full of life. These are the sweet memories with just a hint, every now and then, of the lingering bitter thought that they are in the last phase of their life. Okay, okay, I know it's depressing but it is reality after all.
I am thankful that, like chocolate, I can wrap up morsels of my memory in a piece of paper and stuff them in the secret hiding places of my brain so that I can easily pull them out when I need quick fixes. MMmmm, sweet with just a hint of bitter. What a perfect combination.