I recently spent a week at Lake Waccamaw and served as head cook at Ambassador Camp. Ambassador Camp is a non-denominational Christian camp.
This makes my eighth year serving the first week of camp as head cook. I attended this camp when I was a child, my children attended and now my grandchildren are attending. I am so happy I can experience summer camp with my grandchildren. When I am there I am constantly reminded of many things I had experienced there as a child.
Children I attended camp with are now there as adults and volunteering as I do. I remember having so much fun in the lake with my sister and cousins. The lake bottom is very mushy. It was so mushy on the bottom of the lake I can actually remember the way it squished between my toes. My sister and my cousins would all attend together and we would have the time of our life in that one week. I remember a song I was taught by the music director there some 49 years ago. Her name was Aunt Jackie Brown.
At camp the leaders were addressed as aunts and uncles. The lyrics of this special song goes like this “Happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within His favor, having a change in my behavior, Happiness is the Lord … Happiness is to be forgiven, living a life that’s worth the living, taking a trip that leads to heaven, Happiness is the Lord, Real joy is mine no matter where the tear drops fall, I’ve found a secret, it’s Jesus in my heart!”
I still sing this little tune and can close my eyes and see Aunt Jackie sitting on a stool with her guitar playing this song. I can remember the laughter, the fun and excitement as Uncle Bobby Phillips was the judge in ‘Kangaroo Court”. There are huge pecan trees on the property and Aunt Sara Sledge the camp founder would tell the best bible stories under those tress. I remember the food, how good it was and standing in line waiting to enter the dining hall. I can remember going to the banquet the camp would have each Friday night during camp. We all would be so excited to attend the banquet. The dining hall would be transformed to an elegant event. Both boys and girls delighted in attending. We would receive certificates from passing swimming lessons, to learning all our bible verses and the Honor Campers were revealed. I never thought not once as a child how hot it was, I guess I was having too much fun! I cherish those memories of that one week at camp.
Our memory of things are unique. You see each of us has our own memory of things. It is truly sad when a person loses those very special memories. How wonderful it is when a person living with Alzheimer’s disease can hold onto those long term memories. We all need to take time to share memories and listen to our loved ones share their memories. If this unwelcomed disease should come and take up residence in my home and I was the one it latched onto, and as the disease progressed, if I should start talking about the lake and the squishy bottom and singing that special little song; my family would know what I was remembering.
This would be a special time in the course of this disease, a time my family and I could share together. Simply because I had shared my memories with them early on. You may never be affected by this disease, but still take time out to talk and share memories together. We are too busy in life, we have too many things going on. I must say I am not a big fan of face book! Nothing will ever take the place of a one on one, face to face visit. Seeing, hearing , feeling, smelling and tasting are the five ways the human brain takes in data, this is a key when you and your love one is living with dementia.
Take time today, to share a memory with your loved one and listen as they share a memory with you. Remember to take those three deep breaths when you are frustrated. If you are a caregiver of a person living with dementia, remember to take time for yourself, remember to take care of yourself. Hope you have a “Best Day Ever.”
Lesia Henderson is the aging specialist with the Sampson County Department of Aging.