Thursday, August 16, 2012

Away with the Fairies




I was returning a borrowed book to her.

I found her on her couch, the large screen teevee bellowing mightily into the oblivious air from its forbidding presence beside by the fireplace.

She shot up guiltily as soon as she saw me.

"How are you?" I asked, a little concerned. This woman is a mighty presence in the area, a recipient of the coveted Queen's recent Jubilee Medal. A spearhead of the Fisherman's Museum, a poet, a painter, a quilter, a historian, a published author. Prone on a couch in the middle of the afternoon? I would have said never.

"Can't go anywhere," she said plaintively, "My son is supposed to be fixing my car and took it to his place until he gets back from offshore, it's been weeks now."

"And nobody ever visits anymore."

I found that surprising. Another son and daughter-in-law and various nephews and nieces are scattered all around her.

She went to her fridge and hauled out a plate of fishcakes.

"Would you like one?" she proffered the plate. I demurred. Cold fishcake? Seriously? What's going on?

"I don't cook much, the family keep taking me over to their places and feeding me and then giving me all sorts of stuff, look!" The fridge was packed.

She had just said nobody visited. Alright.

I mentioned a mutual friend had her first grandchild. A girl. I told her the pictures were on Facebook.

"I've forgotten how to use my computer," she laughed.

"Was the grandchild a boy or a girl?" she asked me. I said girl.

We inspected some of her crochet which she hauled from her linen closet.

"What did they call the boy?" she asked me.

"What boy?"

"The grandchild."

"It was a girl"

"You said it was a boy."

"My mistake, a girl."

She took me over to the piano and all the pictures of her grandchildren.

"And this new grandchild you were talking about? Was it a boy or a girl?"

And I thought my heart would break.

23 comments:

  1. In the absence of that which is not, that which is, is not...we must have the sadness to know the happiness, one without the other and you cannot know either, that being said, bummer :(

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  2. CC12:

    Painful and awful to see such a fine mind in such disarray and afterwards I found out the family is just keeping her away from her car as she is lethal on the roads now.

    Shee-yte.

    XO
    WWW

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  3. Anon:

    She is very confused, I'd say the family are just holding on to her holding on. Not too long more, I'd think.

    It really is a total bummer.

    I am so sad.

    XO
    WWW

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  4. Why do some of us die in reverse, our minds disappearing while our bodies go on? Seems so cruel.

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  5. Alzheimers (or any kind of senility) is always tragic and heartbreaking. The gradual disappearance of a once vibrant and multi-faceted personality is so sad. It happened to my father-in-law, and I think it was fortunate that he was gone within a year.

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  6. Sharon:

    Life's last one big joke, yeah?

    It seems so unfair.

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Nick:

    And I saw a husband of a dear friend survive 20 YEARS with it. He was medicated (experimental). One of the worst things I've ever seen. I was appalled.

    XO
    WWW

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  8. It's so much worse for friends and loved ones than for the person actually suffering the dementia, or so I've always supposed. They remain blissfully unaware - is that correct though? We can't know for sure.

    Very sad, WWW. As someone on my blog commented recently in response to a post on Terry Pratchett, the disease seems so much sworse when it strikes those with formerly strong intellects.

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  9. A very sad story. The only kind part is that she doesn't seem to realise what is happening.

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  10. T:
    At some level I was aware that she was watching me very closely for reactions to her.

    I think some part of her knew, though unable to access her short-term, she focussed again and again on a dead daughter-in-law who died from the Big C at a young age.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. GM:

    I'm not sure, as I've said to Twilight above, it is so hard to tell.

    And I think to speak of it would be akin to signing our rights/home/familiar away.

    XO
    WWW

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  12. My eyes are filled with tears reading that. The worst thing about dementia is that so many who have it don't know they have it. Some know it sometimes and not others. My mother was like that. Once when I was driving her out to lunch she looked out at the passing city streets of Bellingham and said, "You know, Anne, I used to live here once, and I had all my wits about me then."

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  13. It must be very tough to be aware of the fact that your own mind is slipping away from you. I'm sure there is a period when you know that. Frightening must be the word to describe that. Your poor friend must have had a very hard time. I hope she doesn't have to suffer too much.

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  14. Oh Anne, that is so incredibly sad.

    A mother of a dear friend that I loved would start a book and laugh and say to me:
    I'm such a cheap read, the same book and the first page over and over again.

    So yes there's some kind of awareness going on.

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Irene:

    Me too. She is such a dear and darling lady and has taken such an interest in me since I moved here.
    I miss her already.

    XO
    WWW

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  16. OWJ
    You keep getting thrown into my spam bucket, don't know why!

    I agree with your thoughts.

    XO
    WWW

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  17. This is very sad. I see all degrees of senility/dementia/Alzheimers (they are all different from one another)in some of the individuals I encounter. Often I've read a brief biography of their life filled with activity and accomplishment.

    Some individuals I've first met when they were fully functional, visiting a declining spouse, only to later decline themselves -- to ultimately become a shadow of their former selves. When it is a friend known to us, our adjustment can be difficult, but the contact from their friends can mean so much. (Sometimes they reject friends.)

    Does make us stop and think -- to wonder about our own future.

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  18. Dementia has that effect on the others. My heart has broken a thousand times on similar occasions.

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  19. My mother has Alzheimer's also and has for over 10 years. She told me early on that it felt like she was standing on the edge of a cliff and gazing into blackness.

    It breaks hearts.

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  20. It is so painful, particularly when you get the "no-one ever visits" comment. Why does it have to be the memory of the visit that gets taken away, rather than the memory of the 'nothing happening' in between?

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  21. My dear sweet friend of, well, my entire life has been admitted to palliative care. In the last three visits I have seen a marked decline in her mental acuity to the point where she is now slightly delusional. It is tremendously heartbreaking considering how sharp she used to be.

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