Another bedside conversation follows the one where Mum could not remember her 80th birthday party.
"Did you enjoy looking at the photographs of your birthday today Mum?" I ask.
"Oh, yes," she says.
"And do you remember it now? And the time Brenda and Peter were here?"
Mum searches her memory and is slightly perplexed, but no; her expression says it all; she still doesn't remember, even though she loved looking at the photos of both events.
"It's just your short term memory, Mum, don't worry. As long as you remember who they are--and me! You do remember me don't you?" and we are both laughing now.
"And if you don't, it doesn't matter, I will remember you," I say.
But even that isn't absolutely certain! So I add, "And if I don't, then we will both recognize each other in heaven." We both laugh again, happy to think of that. There, that is securely sorted!
"Do you ever think of the past, Mum? About your childhood?"
Mum considers and then says, "Yes, sometimes I think about it but I don't like to think about those times."
"But remember when Auntie Corrie (Mum's eldest sister) got you all (Mum and two siblings) up at 4 o'clock one morning and dressed you all, ready to start celebrating her birthday?"
Mum laughs, "Yes, ready to celebrate her birthday!" We have often laughed at Auntie Corrie's "take charge" eldest sister personality that showed itself so early.
But Mum's past doesn't hold a lot of happiness. Even though she carries an inner flame of joy, she obviously doesn't take pleasure in thinking of the past. And my heart aches for a life that had so many dark shadows for one I love so much.
So I want to remind her of the happy times that I know were scattered like golden leaves on a pavement of gray.
"Remember your times with us in Canada, Mum? Remember when you helped Paul with roofing the house?"
Mum had stood by below and passed the tiles up to him. Mum smiles, "Yes, I remember."
"And remember when you came over when Peter had just been born, and how we would try to go for coffee and donuts, but always had to run home when he started crying?"
I tell her that I would not have survived my first three months of motherhood without her help; she who rocked a baby suffering from colic every evening from 6.00 pm when he would start crying, until late evening, thereby saving my sanity. She remembers that.
But then suddenly she says, "You...you are a happy memory, when you are there," looking at my face with the love I have been bathed in since birth; the love that has made me who I am.
And I am overwhelmed with the riches God has blessed me with in her.