I visited my grandmother today. She’s in her 90’s and in a nursing home – the one I put her into when she still had some of her marbles. I say “some” because though she was still with it, some of the time, she had begun to deteriorate both mentally and physically to the point where she was a danger to herself.
I found her sitting alone in an armchair, rugged up, snug as a bug in a rug, half-asleep and all alone. Oh there were other people about, and she was supervised, but her solitude was not merely physical. When I sat down next to her, she roused, bright and alert, but with no idea as to my identity. She didn’t recognise me by sight, and could not recall ever having had any grandchildren, myself included.
It took a few minutes, but eventually, she managed to dredge up some memories of her daughters and the fact that yes, they had indeed had children. Yet, that recognition didn’t last. In the fifteen minutes I was there, she asked me who I was at least three times.
All her family and friends have faded from her memories to the point where we might as well not even exist at all. I certainly am dead to her. Not through malice on her part, but the cruel contempt of dementia. She’s not in any pain, and she’s in no distress. She’s just lost in a fog from which she cannot, nor will ever escape.
I hope when the bell tolls for me, that I go able to remember my loved ones. Those memories might be all I am able to take with me into the realm beyond, if there is one, and that’s not a journey I’d like to take alone.