As I've mentioned before, my husband and I have a long common history. This has been a very valuable tool in helping him to remember things, because I was there, too.
Some of the memories are fun to relive together, looking at photos and being reminded of little details that get lost in the course of daily life, anyway. He probably doesn't actually remember being in some of the exotic locations we've visited, let alone the ordinary ones. But if I show him a photo of a place we've been together, he seems to connect with it. Or maybe he just likes the picture.
My mom's been having health issues of late. Not unusual for a woman in her 90's. But whenever we discuss my mother's health, the subject of his own parents' deaths comes up. He says he doesn't remember how his mother died, so I fill in the blanks for him. She died of cancer at the age of 49. In the early 70's. And then he says he doesn't remember what happened to his father. I remind him that his father was murdered at the age of 65. In the mid-80's. He asks if the responsible parties were arrested and prosecuted. I assure him that they were. He wants to know what has happened to them. One died in prison, the other is still in prison. Knowing this seems to calm him and bring him peace.
Lately, he's even been able to shed a few tears in association with these painful memories. This is something he didn't necessarily allow himself to do before, when his memories were properly filed in cabinets that worked. His emotions are not as tightly controlled as they once were.
This evening, when I was answering his usual questions, I said, "Wow. What would it be like if I wasn't here to answer these questions for you?"
He replied, "I would be a lot less happy."
So would I.