Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dementia Blogging, 1/16/11: Separation Anxieties

Dinner. S's son and daughter-in-law were leaving; they'd been putting puzzles together with her while we talked politics. We walked to the dining room, where the dance begins.

Where are you going? What am I doing here? I want to go with you!

Daughter-in-law leaves (as cover). Son starts to leave. S gets up and follows. Ma, I gotta leave now, he says, or you won't believe what trouble I'll be in.

I don't care! she says.

I'm going to get a parking ticket, a big one.

How much is the ticket? I'll pay it.

$100 dollahs.

I'll pay the $100 dollahs, she says.

But really, ma, I gotta go. We'll be back tomorrow.

What time?


A caregiver walks over to talk to S, who is seated again. Her son hurries off, though he can't resist greeting each resident by name as he leaves through the kitchen.

This evening I said good-bye to my mother for now. For now is the operative phrase. The woman down the hall was "agitated." Her daughter said it was her time; I heard the word "hospice" as I walked past. Passed by. There's a line in Elizabeth Bishop about past and passing, as if they were conjugations of the same verb. Past and passing and to come, perhaps.

Her neighbor at dinner never speaks, was a translator from Chinese. When she saw my mother's stuffed dog, she laughed out loud. When S saw the stuffed bear I carried later, she said, I'm not scayed of dat! I sold those in my stoah. She poked its nose. She swatted her son with her napkin.

Mom has been more lucid on this visit than on the last, in May. She smiles, she nods, she says yes when yes is called for, no when no is appropriate. Before I leave she says she does not want the bear. No bear.

I say good-bye to the others. I say farewell to J, who pets the dog's tail,good-bye to the lovebirds on the couch,good-bye to E, who rumbles behind her walker, good-bye to F, to T, to S. (I love their old names, which I cannot use here; perhaps one day I'll find them new ones in Most Popular Names 1920ish.) They cluster around me, touch my clothes, the ones who are up. They talk to me in bursts. You fixed it, says F, when I get the snaps right on my jacket. I'm tired. I want to go home to Hawai'i, which is so far away and where the weather is always so good. I do not want to leave them behind. Let behind be now, and again now, and again.

I'll be back in a few months, I say to mom.

[This will be the last live-blogging for a while. Please read this installment in conjunction with the others I posted during this past week.]

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