Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
By Barbara Overholser
84-year-old Rosemary Noble Ricketti flips through her high school yearbook and laughs. A boy in a dunce cap looks up at her from the page. The Haddon Heights Class of 1948 yearbook binding may be a little loose, but the tightly woven memories that were formed more than 60 years ago provide a way for Rosemary to connect with her past as she lives with Alzheimer’s disease in the present.
“She spends hours looking through that, reading it over and picking out her friends,” says her husband of 56 years, Tony Ricketti.
“Turn to your page again, Ro. Where’s your picture?” he encourages her.
Diagnosed in 2001, Rosemary ‘s decline has meant that favorite activities such as playing bridge, bowling, (“She had a better average than I had,” remarks Tony) and going to the theater are no longer possible. But the simple pleasure derived from looking through pictures of her past helps sustain her and her husband.
With four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren, the family photo album offers a rich timeline of the Rickettis and the Nobles.
Pictures from travels through Europe and Asia, wedding photos of grandchildren, and sepia toned pictures of great grandparents offer a quilt work of imagery and memories for Rosemary to consider.
“There’s my momma. There’s my daddy.” Rosemary says, pointing to their pictures.
“She still thinks her parents are alive, and I don’t contradict her,” Tony says
Rosemary turns the page of the family photo album. “A rose is a rose…” Rosemary reads, her fingers trailing the words on the page. “So I’m going to be a Rose, not a Rosemary. Funny thing,’ she laughs.