Yesterday I met my parents for coffee near my house in Egg Harbor. They had been driving all afternoon from Madison and were on their way to their little house in the Ephraim woods to spend Christmas and New Year’s with me and my family.
During the course of our coffee break, my mom repeated several times, “I don’t know where I am. I don’t think I’ve been here before.” Dad gently reminded her that she loves Door County, and she has been here thousands of times. I added, “It’s all good. You will love Door County all over again.”
Mom has a slow-progressing cognitive impairment. Her challenges have been puzzling, heartbreaking and sometimes even aggravating to witness. But at that moment at the table in the coffee shop, I realized that viewed a different way, her occasional memory challenge presents a small and unexpected gift.
Those of us who live here can so easily get lost in the weeds: grumbling about the new black utility poles in Fish Creek, worrying about what is going on in the other DC, wondering where that granary will eventually land, fretting about how high the lake will get.
But just imagine the wonder of discovering Door County for the first time again: coming down the steep and densely shaded hill to suddenly see Fish Creek reveal herself, seeing the winter sun reaching through the trees along the shore in Peninsula Park, catching a glimpse of Ephraim’s two steeples from across Eagle Harbor, and finally, waiting patiently while a mother deer and her two young ones cross the driveway. What was old is new again.
Today when I saw Mom, she knew exactly where she was. She remembered her Door County and, I think, also fell in love with it all over again.
It is about to be a new year – a new decade even. I’m going to try to remember every day to give myself the gift of seeing things for the first time again. You are welcome to join me.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin