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Written on my Shuswap Road studio's wall were the words "Life only demands from you the strength you possess.  Only one feat is possible - not to have run away."  These words, spoken by Dag Hammarskjold, winner of the 1961 Peace Prize, helped me through the numbing intensity of my mother's illness.  My mother, a beautiful, courageous and vivacious woman was diagnosed with the insidious brain disease, Alzheimer's in June of 2003.  During the time of  overseeing her care, I kept a journal.  In the journal I wrote  the following words : 

I was  terrified to hear the diagnosis of Alzheimer's for my Mother.  I could accept Vascular Dementia.   It was like treading in Jell-O while at the same time watching my Mother sink in quicksand and hope like mad that she did not move, for if she did she would be sucked further under and I would loose her.  She would suffocate.   Yet it was me who was suffocating.  Not breathing.  It was me who was not moving, who was hurting.   Now I understand that it is okay to face that word, Alzheimer's... and Mother will be fine.  She is gently fading away.   The tiny pixels turn out their lights one by one.  The pixels become the stars in the Milky-way.   One by one the stars fade away until you realize dawn is breaking.   Mother always like that song Morning has Broken.

It is 4:20 in the morning.   There is just a sliver of the moon - a quarter moon, or is it an eight  - plus the North or Morning Star.   The air is pure and fresh.  Last night I again went on the internet to recheck out the information from the night before.  That's just it.  I have been looking and looking for answers to Mother's decline.  I always tried to find something that might -just might -stop this insidious onset.   Funny, how the words insidious onset seem like opposites.  But that is what Mother has -the insidious onset of her eventual death.  

Mother is becoming this tiny vessel, an empty vessel.   I want to reach inside.  Pull something out.  Shake the vessel.   Turn it upside down.   But nothing comes out.   Her corrosive memories are fading.   I will be her memory bank.   

Last night there was an eclipse of the moon.   Quite amazing really watching the earth pass in front of the moon.  Through the binoculars I could see formations shadowed on the moon with the brightness of the moon gradually going smaller and smaller, being sliced away, just as Mother's memories have been sliced away.   Moving so slowly that it is difficult to see at the moment but looking back you realize how the change has occurred.   After the eclipse, the moon was a red shadow.  I wonder if this was an omen of what is to come or where Mother is or a reflection of Mother as the moon got smaller and smaller. 

At the end of one's life there should be a canvas of vivid colours, of vivid memories of a life well lived.  But with Alzheimer's the victims are robbed of all those memories.  A thief stole / robbed Mother of many, many important memories, memories that make up a lifetime. 

Shortly after this last entry, Mother followed the sunrise and joined  John, her loving husband.

 In January, 2005, nine months after my mother had gently faded away and after I had sorted through all the discarded family treasures, odds and ends,  bits and pieces, throwaways  and photographs from my family's home, I began the series  Inside the Space of Lost Memories.     

Inside the Space of Lost Memories speaks to the notion of landscape, memory and loss when considering Alzheimer's.  This work references the social and deeply personal ways in which memory, experience and the memory's landscape intertwine and become unexplained lines of thoughts and tangled, faded knots of language.