The gift of rest

What are you proud of this year?

For me, it’s been bringing to life a personal game called Fading Memories, together with many playful folks who helped shaping it over litres of tea and buckets of raspberries.

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Fading Memories cards, illustrated by Aimee Johanan

Fading Memories is about memory loss and sharing our life stories. It was inspired by the loss of my nonna Rina, who struggled with dementia in her final years.

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Nonna and I playing Memory a few months after she’d been diagnosed with dementia.

You never think it will happen to you, or someone you love, until it does.

Not only do you have to wrangle with the grief of your relationship with them changing forever, as you become the sole keeper of those memories you made together, but at the same time you are thrown head first into the role of carer. A role you never signed up for, that nobody trained you for. But there’s no time to question, your loved one needs your help.

So you do what you can and put your heart and energy into your new full-time job.

That’s what my parents did when nonna couldn’t cope on her own any more. Mamma gave up her studies, her volunteering and her retirement’s freedom to take care full-time of her own mamma.

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This is why we teamed up with the amazing people at Metal Culture, who run a by-weekly art class for people living with dementia.

It gives them space to socialise and express themselves without worrying about making mistakes or remembering things, which is so important for them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the current month is, or who’s the current Prime Minister. Your pencil doesn’t judge you.

And equally important, these art classes give their carers a chance to rest and have a moment for themselves. We don’t realise what a privilege it is to have an hour to go out, enjoy a coffee or meet with friends until that’s not an option anymore.

So what can you do?

You can buy Fading Memories for £36 (including UK shipping costs) knowing that £12 of each copy will go directly to fund the art classes for people with dementia at Metal. We’re donating the full profits.

The cards are printed on recycled cotton, and we’re proud to collaborate with a workers-owned printer cooperative. We’re a small scale, hand-assembled operation and each copy will be signed by myself and Aimee, who painted all the cards.

Imagine playing Fading Memories with your family and friends over the Xmas break, sharing some jolly old memories over mulled wine and cake, instead of bankrupting each other over Monopoly.

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Photo by Dionne Fairnie

Just email me m@tteo.me and let me know:

  1. Your postal address
  2. Your colour preference for the box: pink or blue?
  3. Your language preference for the game: English or Italian?

I may be able to get your Fading Memories delivered before Xmas 🎅

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As the year comes to an end, I’m really grateful to all those who came along to meet me at the V&A studio, stopped by to play a game and share their stories.

I’ve realised that our memories are all we have in the end, and it’s been wonderful to make memories with you all.

Grazie!

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