On behalf of Reel Tributes, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the contest sponsors, we would like to congratulate Carol Amos for winning the inaugural Your Favorite Memory contest. Her story, “The Dining Room”, was an emotional and beautifully-written tribute to her mother’s sense of fashion. Carol’s prize is a customized documentary film, produced by Reel Tributes, to celebrate her mother’s life.
Read Carol’s winning story below:
One of my earliest memories is participating in a fashion show with my mother at the YMCA when I was four or five years old. My mother made us matching poodle style dresses out of a white, blue, and black fabric with a poodle design. We were the hit of the fashion show.
My mother was an expert seamstress but mainly self-taught. She made all of our clothes and also my brother’s Easter suits with matching coats. She transformed our dining room into a sewing room and we spent countless hours together as she taught me to sew at an early age. She taught me the importance of perfection. Even if a mistake was not visible, my mother would say, “I will know that it is there.” So I learned how to remove stitches and took pride in wearing my well-made garment. My mother taught me about fabric, color, fashion, and how to modify a pattern to suit my own taste. I made some of the widest bell-bottom pants in high school. I continue to use my sewing skills today.
I learned to sew in the dining room but more importantly I learned life lessons. Some of the lessons were direct conversations with my mother about God, faith, achievement, honesty, time management, setting goals, and how to be a lady. My mother modeled some of the lessons as I watched her stop sewing to listen or give counsel to a friend on the telephone or to bake a cake for a bereaved friend. Other lessons such as commitment, service to others, and how to treat people, I overhead as she spoke on the telephone to friends. All of these lessons helped transform me as I developed from a girl into a woman.
When my mother began to lose her memory seven years ago, we moved her to an assisted living facility. Her sewing machine was placed in a prominent place in her suite but we soon realized that my mother lost her ability to sew. The sewing machine became just another piece of furniture. Now my mother resides in an Alzheimers facility and the sewing machine resides in my basement, both a reminder of what used to be.
After battling Alzheimers disease for over eight years, my mother still has a keen fashion sense. She sometimes compliments patients in the doctor’s office about their clothes, shoes, or purses. When my mother receives compliments about her outfit, she sometimes responds, “I made this outfit not long ago.” I smile because I know that I recently purchased her clothes and her statement confirms that she truly enjoys the outfit. On one occasion, my mother complimented me by saying, “I like your new suit.” I was shocked because it was a new suit. Glimpses of the mother I used to know are pleasant surprises and give me strength for the remainder of this Alzheimers journey.