Fading……..and……..Becoming Vibrant

I have the absolute delight these days of watching the daily vibrancy of a 5 month old. She has gone from being able to just look about to being able to reach out and touch…to being able to grab and hold….to being able to communicate….to now being able to lift herself up and just about motor about on her knees.

Literally every day brings some new growth, some new discovery, some new strength.

I find myself wanting to capture every moment. To capture in a picture or a video…to hold that moment and not release it. Sometimes, honestly, it is difficult to just enjoy the moment as I scramble to grab the camera. I’ve had to be intentional about just enjoying the moment.

Treasuring these moments in my heart. Sounds familiar, huh?  How good of a thing is it that Mary didn’t have a camera? That she didn’t tell Jesus to freeze every moment for pictures or to capture the moments on video. Instead she simply treasured these things in her heart.

They are safe there….or are they?

Madeleine Jane. My girl is named after two rather amazing women…well, kinda. Her first name is really just a hat-tip to Madeleine L’Engle. We loved the name, and I loved how L’Engle spelled her name. L’Engle and her writings have had a great impact on my faith. She is a wonderful example of a strong and vibrant woman. A woman who thought deeply and treasured things in her heart, and who communicated them wonderfully.

Jane. That is for my mother, although technically my mother is Janie…her grandmother was Jane. So, Jane.

She has lived an amazing life, and I got to as a result of being by her daughter. She had an incredibly bright and quick mind, a wonderful singing voice and a sharp wit. She could intimidate the best competitor and be incredibly tender and generous to those in need. She was in many ways larger than life.

And she is fading.

As quickly as Madeleine learns a new talent, Mother forgets a piece of who she is. She forgets who her husband is, or the events of her remarkable life. She forgets her children, or remembers that she has children but does not know we are they. She forgets the day, the week, the place.

Yet, she is still present with us. And sometimes, we get the bittersweet gift of her being present mentally with us.

She delights in Madeleine, sometimes just as any baby that she would encounter, and sometimes…..sometimes she knows that this little image bearer is her namesake. And then she will hold her a little differently, speak to her a little more tenderly and tell her that she will pay attention to what becomes of this little one named for her.

And I want to grab the camera or the video and capture that moment. Because that moment is precious, and I am keenly aware that it will slip away before I am ready to let it go. I want to be able to feel it again, to hold it longer.

I want Madeleine to know this woman she is named for.


15 thoughts on “Fading……..and……..Becoming Vibrant

  1. noelle says:

    So beautiful.


  2. sarahkwolfe says:

    Thanks, my friend. It is a strange journey right now with this enormous joy in Madeleine and this sorrow surrounding Mother. The awareness that she is not completely present with us is amplified when she doesn’t know who Maddie is….

    BTW…nice to have you with the first comment on my first blog. What on earth am I thinking?!!


  3. odenfong says:

    There is sadness in the fading away of our loved ones. At my age, I’m seeing it in relatives and close friends. I myself am fading slowing away and I notice the change of seasons in my body and my mind. I live in the fall season, quickly approaching winter.

    As sad as it may be for those who are still very awake in this world, I recognize it as something as beautiful as the leaves changing. We all must move on. The contrast between Madeleine Jane and Momma Janie is compelling. One life comes in, the other goes out, with just a whisper of coherent contact between the two.

    I was very recently reflecting on the fact that; just when we get “grown up, mature, and hopefully wise” we lose our memories and then our bodies fall to the ground. It’s more than ironic! It’s perfect for now. My great hope is one which is securely anchored to Jesus Christ. My hope is in seeing Him soon and having all of us together forever.


  4. Amy Hamilton says:

    Dear Sarah:

    It was a little hard to read this first post. I, as I told you, lost both parents to dementia/alzheimers in the last 4 years. And what you note is all too familiar. And yet, what you impart…in your fervour to capture the moments, the present, the being, is also so familiar. So true. I watch my grown nieces now with a complete pride in how she would see them. Not the colored critical, version of the earthly Adele, but the one who observes them among the great cloud of witnesses. Seeing them with wonder; their beauty and strength and calling it good. I sort of hear the way she would encourage my nephew who is struggling a bit with Junior College. I can quote what she might say. It’s an amazing legacy to have been such a phenomenon. I am lucky and so are you. Abide in the memory of what she was and in the hope that she will be restored again to that. And enjoy the opening bud that is Maddy. Tearfully, Amy


  5. sarahkwolfe says:

    Oden…yes. I am trying to learn to hold on to these experiences with the looseness of eternity. To know that this is not the final word, this is not the final experience.

    Amy…sigh. It is such a difficult thing to go through, and I can’t imagine it doubled. We went through this with my mother’s parents, but thankfully my dad is as sharp as can be.

    I love your image of her seeing the children with wonder and not critical. That is wonderful. I am intent on gathering as many memories as I can in these days and months (years?), but doing so with a glad heart, not storing away the memories as some defense against the inevitable. Gathering the memories for rejoicing and laughter and strength.


    • Amy Hamilton says:

      Good on you for that. I find it’s easier to do the fully positive now. Now that the struggle is over. While it was going on everything was too mixed. I guess there was a sort of balance there, but we didn’t feel it much. Now, when my nephew sneezes, I startle a little. He sounds so like my dad. And when I look at his 6 foot 2 frame filling out more like a man each day, I just marvel. And I marvel when he does things that amaze me. Like when he upbraided his mom for dropping by my apartment unannounced the other day. He, of course, was right. Man…21 and a whole, sensitive, smart human being. Geez. How’d this happen. Grace. A legacy of such amazing richness. And just a miracle.


  6. Amy Taylor says:

    Oh Sarah! I am so happy you are doing this. Looking forward to your words and the inspiration that will come from them! xoxo


  7. Xenia says:

    In this story, I am the grandmother who is having trouble remembering all the important events in the lives of my five grown children. When my youngest son recently referenced the arm he had broken as a child, the whole room went silent when I confessed that I had no memory of the incident. I have another son who seems to panic when I forget things- he sort of yells at me, “Come on Mom, don’t you remember what I told you last week?” He’s scared I”m fading away. There’s nothing wrong with me, I am just becoming a forgetful older person whose brains are so full of the memories of six decades that some of them are a little hard to access as quickly as I’d like. It’s a filing problem. 🙂

    Your little girl is the same age as my newest grandson Sammy!


  8. sarahkwolfe says:

    Amy T…..yay! Glad you came by. I was actually really sparked thinking about our 20th reunion and getting to see friends from days gone by. I would love to have a place to have some conversation before we get there…which is difficult being so far away. I want to have conversations happening so it is not a time of seeing people and having nothing to say. Internet is amazing in this sense…and you know how bad I was about writing actual letters! 😉


  9. sarahkwolfe says:

    Xenia…I think you are much like my mother in being able to communicate and having a grace in how you carry yourself. I can sympathize with your youngest…it is so difficult to see someone strong forget things, but I know we can over-react sometimes as well. You definitely do not seem to be slipping!!!

    And Sammy is a great name! Our Sammy, I cannot believe it, is 5 1/2 now. I’m sure his face will appear on these pages!


  10. Beautiful Sarah! Like Oden, I sense that I’m in the autumn season of life. Some days, I remember that I’m that much closer to seeing my Lord. Most of the time, though, I just think about how much I have NOT done for the Kingdom, the regrets, the goals and dreams never realized, etc. I need to re-evaluate, and perhaps ask the Lord for some new dreams, attainable before it’s too late.

    BTW, Madeleine is a beautiful name.


  11. sarahkwolfe says:

    Thanks, Kevin…it’s good to see your Captain here!

    I’m in somewhat the same situation…re-evaluating goals and dreams. I’ve thinking a lot about how much my life has changed, and how that is good in the vast majority of ways. Still, there is a part of how I used to be that I wish my kids could see…the more “alive” and awake. I have gotten lazy the last few years….I need to enliven the mundane somehow.


  12. erunner says:

    My Grandmother and her sister both passed away with full blown dementia and now my mother is in the early stages. I am starting to lose words if that makes sense. If I’m talking about going to Home Depot I can’t remember it’s Home Depot. The name eludes me.

    I take care of my mother’s needs as far as taking her to the doctor and shopping at times. She’s forgetting a lot but some things she’s right on top of. She’s still volunteering at the hospital three days a week and also at the Performing Arts Center. The idea of watching her “disappear” scares me.

    Our Grandson has become a bright light in my life. I’m sure that’s because he and his parents are able to live with us. I cherish every moment I have with him and am filled with joy to see him laughing and playing. Almost as it is with you and Madeline.

    I know this will be a safe place to be Sarah. Thanks for inviting me. Allan


  13. Cheri says:

    So precious. Tender moments caught in your heart and mind to savor and treasure.
    I remember my sweet mother-in-love looking at her third great grandchild and saying, ” I will not live to see her grow-up.” She died a few months later unexpectedly.

    I find myself clicking pictures all the time if my grandchildren because I know now how fleeting the moments of childhood are.

    Thanks for the invite. I look forward to the “visits”.


  14. sarahkwolfe says:

    Allan, Cheri…thanks for coming by!

    It is so tough to watch our parents age. Even without the dementia it is difficult because it means change. We were talking in Biblestudy last night about how difficult it is sometimes to truly grasp that we are meant for eternity. To truly understand that and rejoice when someone we love enters eternity…sadness for missing them, but joy that they know face-to-face.

    I’ve also had a the great delight in being around some who are aging with joy and dignity. Those who have a peace knowing that they do not have to fear the end.

    Our life is so short, and I think because there is so much stress around us when we have these moments of delight, in children or in wonder, we cling to them. That’s a whole conversation in itself….we are so hungry for peace and joy and wonder that we have a hard time simply enjoying it….for fear that it will be taken too quickly.

    With that thought…I’m going to go take a nap with the magical Madeleine. 😉


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