yellow is the color…

life stories.

we were deciding on whether or not my mom should be moved one more rung up the assisted living ladder.
on one of my last visits, i went to check out what was considered the “last stop” within the facility itself. it was designed like a dormitory – each room had two single beds and next to the beds were night tables and/or a small dresser, a recliner and/or a rocking chair tucked into the corner. a couple of paintings and photos hung on either side of the walls. most beds had railings so that none of the folks could fall easily out at night. the furnishings were sparse, the rooms tidy, the walls filled with one or two memories of that person on their side of the room. outside the room, on either side of the door, were glass cases filled with figurines, and hummel pieces, and various personal tchokches, and framed photos of family and friends – personal effects. next to the glass cases, hanging on the wall, were framed pieces of paper. written on each piece of yellow lined paper was the name, his or her age, and a life story. some were a full page long, some half a page, some were just a few lines. each informing you who that person was, lying in that single bed, sitting in that rocking chair, or listening to the radio as he or she reclined. the family and friends framed photos neatly arranged in each glass case.

one man was a car salesman. he loved baseball. he had two kids, a boy and a girl, and two grand kids. His wife died years earlier, and he had alzheimer’s.

a woman named becky was a beautician. she came from a very large family in the midwest. she had never married. she liked happy faces and loved the color yellow. she had dementia.

another man worked the railroads, lived in colorado, where he raised three girls and had twelve grandkids. one of his daughters was living with another woman who he referred to as his fourth daughter. he had alzheimers.

another man was a holocaust survivor. he loved chocolate, his wife’s name was muriel. and he always wore long sleeved shirts.

each page told a brief story.
i’m sure most — not all — were written by relatives, or friends, remembrances of that life lived.

one life.
one page.

and as i walked up and down the hall, i couldn’t bear my mother becoming one page.

there was so much – so very much – to read and write and share between the lines.
over eighty some odd years of so very much.

and so, she didn’t move up the ladder.

as i write this, and think about it, i knew everything i needed to know about each person in each room.

i mean, my god, just knowing that someone loved the color yellow tells me everything.

but, still.

i believe – in memory of so many – that we are each, every single one of us at least one or two or three or four book worthy.

Category: Uncategorized 10 comments »

10 Responses to “yellow is the color…”

  1. Kristine

    I have been told that my mother’s greatest lesson is yet to come. She is 86 after all and can’t find her socks, let alone the jewelry she stashed in the toe of her shoe, when she last took her pills and the name of her first boyfriend. What could she teach me now? TONS and tons! I learn who I am at this stage in my life by watching her navigate, and I get to decide who I want to be when I am in her situation. Amy, your mom is still teaching you. That gives me comfort. I know that when my mom is no longer able to call me 10 times a day, she will still be in my life…she will still be causing me to think and re-think what I value…what I treasure…what I fear…

  2. Reticula

    What a heart-breaking post. All I could think is that I don’t ever want my life to be reduced to one page. One more reason to keep blogging, I guess. Thanks for a dose of reality.

  3. Jesse Loren

    Mom is staying with me now. Mild to moderate dementia. OMG it is frustrating. She has a sweetness, then an angry, bitter, distrustful streak. She is funny, but angry. Loving, but exhausting. I am lost in a sea of duty and unnavigable shores.

  4. Debra DeAngelo

    So poignant… I often had these thoughts, visiting my dad week after week in the convalescent hospital… how each of these bodies being shuffled around like boxes were people, with lives, and histories… and someone needed to remember that!

  5. Carlene

    very good article! thanks!

  6. Wendy

    Great post Amy, you create such wonderful and heartbreaking imagery. I aspire to write blogs as good as yours someday soon. 🙂

  7. Elaine Howe

    Love this . I was caregiver for my Mom the last 3 1/2 yrs. of her life …it was hard but wouldn’t take that time back foer myself for anything ! I learned things I never knew about her….she loved to dance….<3

  8. Maya

    I worked in two nursing homes post college; this place you speak of was remarkable–in most, there is neither word nor picture to tell even a whisper of who these folks are. Instead they are like simulacra–placeholders representinga person who is gone. And yet, in this culture, they are so often already gone in the eyes of all but their own peers. I see them drifting about grocery stores and such like ghosts, invisible to nearly all. But I know better. There may well be someone utterly marvelous in there–a human pearl, so I waste no opportunity to say hello and watch an entire universe blossom before me. XXXOO O

  9. Mary

    My mom had advanced Alzheimer’s and died this month at the age of 80 in one of these rooms you speak of. But we surely did not worry about the size of the room or that she had to share it with another resident because we knew it was a room filled with love. She was surrounded by family and dedicated caregivers on this final journey of her life and was not EVER reduced to “one page.” My Dad and my Mom were married for 58 years. He cared for her for years at home before we made the difficult decision earlier this year that she needed more care than he could provide. He still visited her each and every day for many hours. The staff lovingly cared for my Mom. I am in awe of anyone that works in a Memory Care Facility as it takes a special someone and they are certainly not doing it for the money. We are so grateful my Mom had many special someones who did not allow her to become one page in a semi-private room.

  10. Michelle O'Neil

    Book worthy, yes. So poignant.

Leave a Reply


Back to top