For decades (since before I was born, definitely, but possibly far longer than that) my mother was known for remembering birthdays and anniversaries with cards. Her handwriting was gorgeous - despite being a lefty, and there's a long story behind that - and getting a card from her was a highlight for friends and family.
Then her memory started to slip. No problem, my father was there to help. What she used to remember effortlessly she now needed a list, and armed with that they'd go out each month, buying a fistful of cards appropriate to the occasion. She'd still do the addressing and the main message, with Dad signing as necessary.
Then her handwriting went, thanks to the arthritis, and her memory got worse. They'd still go shopping, but now Dad would do the majority of the work with her just signing.
Last summer, with both of them out of commission, things got worse. But after missing a major birthday, Dad rallied and things seemed normal.
Yesterday, he admitted that things weren't normal. It was a lot of work, keeping up with all the shopping and dates (conservatively, I'm guessing about 10 cards a month got chosen and sent). So, with some overt sadness (but secretly, I suspect, very relieved to be done with this duty) he told me that he was just giving up. He'd use the list to circle the calendar with immediate family dates, but extended family? Not so lucky.
I've always been the "good" daughter in terms of family, always attending funerals and weddings and dinners and keeping up with everyone. But I'm not going to take this on. It was my mother's gift to others, and that's how it's going to stay.
It'll be the end of an era, and yet another reason to miss my mom.