(All photos by Marylin Warner)

(All photos by Marylin Warner)

lost tennis ball

red glove

Dear Mom,

I remember when you and dad were building the dealership. Money was tight, and sometimes, at the end of a long work day, our family would then deliver a car to the new owners in another town. If the delivery were more than sixty miles away, it would be late at night, so David and I might have been in our pajamas and robes, ready for bed. David would ride with Dad in the car to be delivered, and I would be with you in the car that we all rode in together for the return trip home.  The guys often listened to the radio. You and I often played a story-telling game, where one of us made up several titles, and the other chose one title and made up a little story to go with it.

We also played word games.  My favorite was this: we  decided on a topic, and then we took turns giving examples.  For instance, one topic was “Things that are scary,” and some of our examples were when the lights go out in a storm, when you go into the kitchen at night and a mouse runs in front of you, when you’re playing hide and seek and no one comes after you, etc. I remember that the funny thing about the scary topic was that by the time we were finished, we were making crazy noises and laughing.

You might not remember those rides and our games, Mom, but I do.  If we were playing the word game now, the topic might be “Things we lose.”  Tangible examples could be lose your gloves, sunglasses, keys, homework, etc.  Emotional, intangible examples could be lose your temper or your patience or sense of humor, lose hope or faith or trust or love, or on a more current, personal level…lose your memory.

Here are some quotes on loss that I also think apply to dementia and Alzheimer’s:

“Not all who wander are lost.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien

“Always look at what you have left. Don’t look at what you have lost.” ~Robtert Schuller

“Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”  ~Clarence Darrow

…and by Daniel Boone:  “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”

My favorite, most poignant quote on loss and love (which I’ve used before on the blog) is by G.K. Chesterton: “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”  Dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the only risks in life; all of us live one day at a time, and as you and Dad used to say, we should be grateful for each day and  live it to the fullest.

You were our example, Mom, and we all love you.   Marylin


Metal detector quickly found these in children's park: metal toy truck, coins and bolts, and a shell casing.

Metal detector quickly found these in children’s park: metal toy truck, coins and bolts, and a shell casing.

Using metal detector to find lost things.

Using metal detector to find lost things.



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

73 responses to “THE THINGS WE LOSE

  1. What a lovely piece. And the quote–““The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”–is so powerful. It’s one we would all benefit from by keeping in mind.

  2. Thanks, Carrie. More and I more I can relate to the Daniel Boone quote; I think my moments of panic come from having a dad who died of Alzheimer’s and now my mom with dementia. To balance it out, I remind myself that “Not all who wander are lost.”

  3. juliabarrett

    Reading your words never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, to live is to risk loss. It’s a big risk. And very worth it. Every single story I read about your mother makes me love her more. I’m glad she lived well.

    • She did live well, Julia, for almost 90 years. Now, at 94 1/2, she struggles well, to remember, to be content and pleasant as she tries to adjust to this ongoing confusion.
      Life IS a big risk. And you and I agree that is very worth the risk.

  4. Daniela

    Yet another of your pieaces that touches my heart in its most secretive places … yes the way to love anything is indeed to realize that it might be lost.

    Many thanks,

  5. You are welcome, Daniela.
    Chesterton’s quote could have also been the theme to ANNA KARENINA. Your post on the film was excellent.

  6. Every quote you give needs to hang on my wall…and every word you write lingers in my heart! Thank you, Marylin…your posts never fail to touch and move me. What a wonderful relationship blossomed between you and your mom.:)

    • You are always so kind, Vivian.
      Your 350-word Spring story for children would have delighted my mother when she was writing for children and doing her poetry. I’ll read your story to her next time I visit and see if it triggers a memory for her. It’s truly an excellent story.

  7. Did you ever use that topic word game, as a mother?

    • Actually, Molly and I walked on weekends, to Goodwill to look for great deals, to little shops and the library. On those long walks we talked and told stories, and we really caught up on each other’s lives and thoughts. Now we’ve found a great game–Apples To Apples (it comes in the kids’ version and the adult)–and our whole family plays it together. It uses theme phrases, and then everyone picks from cards to find the best examples. It’s so much fun, and another good way to communicate.

      • My son and I would play “I’m thinking of something and it’s …” We’d get ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, after I picked him up from school, and sit in the parking lot playing the game. I looked up Apples to Apples and it sounds like fun. When my family gets together, we love to play Catch Phrase. At the end of the game, we are worn out from all the fun!

      • Our family laughs and argues and laughs again when we play Apples to Apples, and the kids love it. Hmm…Catch Phrase? Is it a card or board game, Darla, or is it something you made up?
        The ice cream and talk after school is the stuff of great memories. I bet your son loved it!

      • Catch Phrase is a popular board game. You get a phrase and your team has to try and guess it, but there are limits to what you can say. Plus the timer is going AND you can’t have the phrase holder in your hand when the buzzer goes off. You’d probably enjoy it!

      • That sounds like a game our entire family–even the kids–could really get into, Darla. Thanks for recommending it!

  8. Lovely post, thank you, Marilyn – I read this over breakfast: I now have my thought for the day.

  9. Lovely to read about your word games and the way you all ‘worked’ together as a family. Precious memories were created and, at the time, you would not realise, either of you, that that was what was happening.You were simply living each day vividly and well. One of my favourite quotes from Winnie the Pooh is ‘I ‘m not lost for I know where I am. But however where I am may be lost.’ It reminds of when we thought we had lost our little daughter in FAO Shwarz in New York and ,when we found her, she was surprised by our concern. She said, “But I knew where I was. I wasn’t lost. Why did you worry?”

    • Oh, this is so beautiful. I’d forgotten the Winnie the Pooh quote, but it is so profound and really proves the point.
      But it’s your young daughter’s response in FAO Shwarz that gives me chills. It reminds me of the answer Jesus gave his mother after they’d been frantically looking for him in the temple.
      Thanks so much for sharing this.

  10. Don

    So enjoyed your post. The quote by Robert Schuller really struck me.

  11. Beautiful – thank you, Marylin. We so often fail to treasure what we have while we have it.

  12. Marylin, this is lovely and so moving. I am sorry Ive missed a few of your posts. I needed to change my email address and had to re subscribe to everyone. This seemed to take for ever but I got there!

    I relate so much to the things you write, all of them bringing back happy and sad memories of mum.

    I am going to try and catch up with what Ive missed. Thank you for sharing your memories and feelings. My mum used to get “windows” of memory and recognition back; I hope your mum does too.

    Christine xx

    • Welcome back!
      Up until a few months ago, my mom did have those “windows” of memory and recognition, usually in the middle of the night while I was helping her back from the bathroom. She would look at me and smile. Her eyes would light up and she’d say, “I know you! You’re my girl! I know you!” We would both laugh and hug each other. I was so grateful for those brief realizations.

  13. Very moving post so nicely done…and yes, Chesterton quote was a powerful ending. This month we are facing loss here too…broken hip, minds slipping, fading in-laws at 93 and 97.

  14. Another well-written post both heartwarming & bitter-sweet. I love the quotes at the end. I like the Daniel Boone quote the best and have been doing some wandering, confused moments lately myself! It is empowering to reframe it as not being lost.

  15. Great post Marilyn. Just thinking about how my mother and I interacted and how my father and my brother interacted. Totally opposite sides of the spectrum.

    • Yes, VERY different, isn’t it?
      Yet, I watched my husband interact with his mother during her last several years. He went faithfully every week to take her for walks in the sunshine, over to the library where art was displayed on the walls, and he’d buy her coffee and cookies in the coffee shop and they’d talk and talk. When we moved her to a care facility in Colorado Springs, he visited her daily–many time twice a day–and read to her, and again they talked. Growing up, he was closer to his dad and his uncle, I think, doing “guy” things, but when his mother needed him, he was there for her and whatever she needed.

  16. Such heartwarming stories you are giving us Marylin, with such powerful lessons.

  17. I am ever impressed by your writing and your ability to bring your life with your Mother alive for all of us. Thank you.

    • That’s so nice, thank you. My goal is to keep her alive, for her great-grandchildren, long after she’s gone. Many of the lessons from her life will be a great help to them, too, I think.

  18. Jim

    Beautiful post, Mor-Mor. Offers much to keep in mind. Love the ‘treasure trove’ found with that metal detector! Here’s another evocative thought about loss with an ironic twist to it: Lose your life to find it–a loose paraphrase from J. of Nazareth.

  19. What a great story again, and some great quotes to go with it. I’ll have to remember that word game to play with my kids. We have lots of word games but we haven’t played this one yet.

    • I think you’ll be surprised with the word games they think of as they grow older. Opposites are good beginning word games.
      My grandchildren, 9 and 8, are into states and capitals. We give them one, and they give the other…and they love to play this at meals! (Their mom and dad make them eat most of their food before beginning the game.)

      • Haha, I’d be terrible at the state/capital game! But I like the opposite games. We often do rhyming games and also write new song lyrics of popular songs when we’re in the car. With boys, it often revolves around potty talk…

      • Aw, the joys of little boys (and girls) interjecting potty talk into every conversation!
        I really like the new song lyrics to popular songs…great idea!

  20. I love this post. I think it speaks to us all

  21. I love this post too. Love and blessings, Ellen

  22. Now that is kind of spooky, a gun shell in the play ground. I remember playing games in the car too. A wonderful way to pass time.

    • It is spooky. Like a blend of the past (the coins and little metal car) with the present (the shell casing). I thought it fit the theme perfectly, of the things we loose, like the innocence of playing in the park.

  23. Memories are made of this: bonding over unforgettable moments filled with laughter.

  24. Molly

    Ahhhhh….NOW I KNOW that all the word games, and “thinking games” came from the long line of women that I respect, love and admire!

    Wonderful story telling, as usual Mom! I love reading about Grandma from your point of view. Grace and Gannon will treasure all these stories someday!


  25. Your posts are always so very touching, Marylin… Your mother must be so proud… in that place that remembers…

    • I hope so, Carolyn. Lately there are fewer and fewer precious moments when she’s clear and following what is happening, but I keep trudging along anyway, writing down these memories for her great-grandchildren.

  26. jakesprinter

    The picture of dog missing remind me my dog lost 3 days ago ,
    I post my dog picture too! but I forgot to put the word reward thanks for the idea Marylin , Great post my friend 🙂

  27. Poignant words, Marylin. I’m glad your memory is so in tact so we can experience your recollections with you!

    • I’m glad, too, Nancy. But after each of our visits now, I have a rattled feeling, a kind of confusion, and I have to give things time to settle before I can write more. I can only hope that our daughter and grandchildren will step up and take over for me when the time comes!

  28. Oh..these are lovely images from days gone by…cliches are always likely to be overused for a reason….”ahh…the good old days”..dpesnt that say it all??


    • It does say it all…sometimes. Some of the good old days had serious flaws, but the memories I want to pass on to my grandchildren are the “keepers.” Please join us again.

  29. dianabletter

    Hi Marylin, This is a beautiful post. It reminds me to love large and be ready to let go…Love and loss are so intertwined (which is probably why I love sad movies!) Thank you!

    • They really are intertwined, Diana…along with joy and sorrow, pride and disappointment, night and day. Maybe that’s why we appreciate love so much, because of the potential for loss?

  30. Beautiful!
    We love you, too, Marylin.
    Maybe sometimes we’ll just be like Daniel Boone and simply be confused for a while but end up being great explorers with new discoveries in the making. Thank you for helping me relearn things, too, even if they got lost on the trail and blown away by that wind that snakes somewhere through the cactus. Cheers, and here’s to living today with love and light.

  31. This is beautiful, K.! Thank you. I especially love the “relearn things…even if they get lost on on the trail and blown away by that wind that snakes somewhere through the cactus…” You are amazing, K.

  32. Hi Marylin,
    You conjure up great memories for me too! And thank you for the reminder to take one day at a time. 🙂

  33. Amy

    Reading your story about is like hear you talking to you mother softly, that always makes me in tears… I wrote a short story about my mother last year, but if you have a few minutes…

  34. Hi. What a wonderful use of Blog-space … letters to your Mom. Mostly, I regret the people I have lost along the way. My Mom and Dad, friends from university and school, teachers, Aunts and Uncle, cousins… some don’t even know I have lost them and think about them. Nice post! Jane

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