Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane

Jacqueline Marcell Health Guide
  • After moving recently and throwing out so many things I no longer need, yesterday I suddenly took a break as I found myself deep down memory lane–leafing through numerous photo albums and scrapbooks I had kept as a child and young adult.

    I was surprised by how many people I don’t even remember now, but also warmed by how many special people have come in and out of my life–and how many I still keep in touch with.

    I even found my Junior Prom corsage that high school heart-throb Bob gave me and wondered if I could find out what he is doing now through Classmates or the Internet–but darn, no luck. Then I found stacks of love letters and wondered what my life would have been like if I had married John and moved to Washington DC.
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    I couldn’t help pondering how different my life would have been had I gone to Stanford, where I had been accepted, instead of to the private photography & cinematography college in Santa Barbara, which led me to my long career in the television business. No, I think I did make the right decisions, but ohhh, what if I hadn’t sold my first home–which is worth a fortune now!

    The story of each of our lives is a series of decisions we made, forks in the road we took, and no amount of pondering the "what if’s?" can change where we are right now. Regret is only helpful if we learn from our mistakes and make better decisions for the future.

    But what about elderly people facing the end of their lives, who have regrets and ponder the "shoulda, coulda, woulda’s" — but who don’t have the opportunity to correct mistakes and do better next time? And what about those with dementia, whose memories are fading?

    As caregivers, we can help our elders release some of these emotions by letting them talk about the old days and listen to their many stories of triumph and tragedy with interest, even if we have already heard them numerous times–and even if the facts have become somewhat distorted.

    A colleague and friend of mine, Jeff Mettais (former Executive VP of The Baby Einstein Company), is Co-founder and President of The Memory Lane Company, which has videos, music CDs and memory books to help stimulate and entertain people with memory loss. Their goal is to help people preserve connections with life and family and to encourage communication: http://www.memorylanemedia.com

    And… I hope that when the reminiscing begins, you will discretely turn on a tape recorder–because someday–you may be longing to hear your loved one’s stories again. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had recorded my parents’ fondest memories–and yes, I would have to say that is one of my biggest regrets.

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    You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at ElderRage.com.

Published On: July 07, 2006