Friday, January 8, 2010

Dementia Blogging: Day Four: Sundowning

8 January 2010

--Sundown. Filled in orange circle behind Arden Courts. Inside, sundowning. S, who gives me the a-ok at lunchtime, demands $2. “I just wanna get home; it's close by.” She's a businesswoman, has a house—two house! She's in knee socks again, a dress, waves around a brown wallet. Someone picked her pocket, left her with nothing. “Does anyone know me well enough to lend me two dollahs?” she demands. “Who's in charge here? Where's the office? $2 charity!” The office is down the hall and to the right, Betty says, although it's down the hall, through a locked door and to the left. Even so, S comes back with the boss, who says her son is coming later. “Does anyone know me enough to give me $2!” Then, somehow, she has a dollar. Her refrain changes, in number only. One dollah; her Bronx accent thickens. “Everyone's a liah! It's not funny!” She's not a charity case.

--Her son and grandson are signing in as I leave. Just so you know, the boss tells him. Her clothes are on her bed and she's ready to go.

--I wonder why I feel better this time. I wonder why I do not. I wonder if my reader still feels what I feel, or if we now diverge like paths at Arden Courts, those that never go anywhere except around and back to where they began. I wonder if the text's immediacy also wears down, wears out, wears away. If bereavement ends with acceptance, even before death comes down Country Lane, high stepping past the piglet at the entrance and the tiny clothes hanging on a line and past the suburban furnishings and the large television, past the generic old-time photos to room 9, where Martha Schultz lives behind her name.

--Oprah interviews a woman whose surgeon husband was a thief and a cheat. "Believe what people tell you about themselves the first time they say it," Oprah quotes Angelou. And when was the first indication he was not who he seemed to be? (It had something to do with his shoes and the time of day.)

--Mom responds to photos, when wifi kicks in, late afternoon. Facebook photos of the cat, the dogs (“cute dog!”), the girl, the boy, the husband, the President (he's the one after Bush, mom, a better one), some birds of paradise. She laughs, even. Not a laughter of recognition but.

--P is happy today. She still talks about children, still begins with words that dissolve into stuttered syllables. Another woman addresses me; I don't realize she's speaking Dutch, I only know I do not understand. A, who carries her purse everywhere, confides in me that “they tried to bullshit me” and “you know where they stick things,” before inviting me into her room. I stay outside.

--Did P suffer yesterday when she wept, or the day before, when she pulled the tree down? Does P knows she feels better now, coming just a little too close to me, to L, but not to bully us, as she does J? (We none of us remember duration well, the newspaper tells us, but remember events rather than years, months, days.) If there is no event to remember, or memory to record event, has there been suffering, joy, astonishment? The correct answer is yes. I think. Fill in the dot.

--L tells P she loves her, and P says more about the kids. Her eyes are dark moons, her hands white as if cold, and her voice velvety, even when her anger starts. The common area is full, well-dressed residents in their formal chairs, half awake, the other half slumped over. One man wears a tie; J wears one new white tennis shoe and one white sock; E burps loudly; my mother sits quietly in her rocker. She says she's happy I came.

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