Friday, January 14, 2011

Dementia Blogging, 1/13/11: Going Home

Fred Wah:

This notion that home can operate as a foundation of identity allows that identity (since we seem to need it) might function as some kind of “soul,” part of the baggage we can’t leave (behind, or somewhere else) and that it (identity) therefore needs the constructs of home (place, workplace, school, kitchen, neighborhood, and so forth) eventually, in dementia, as a presence that is absent.

One of my mother's caregivers says there are two things the residents never forget, sexual desire and home. They all remember where they come from, she says. And my mother? I ask. If she were more expressive, yes.

E kisses S's fingers at lunch, thanks her. Her breath is a dusk engine, its gears too audible for comfort. She is loud: she belches, she yells out what she does not want. Luckily, the woman (G) who keeps asking E if he has a line of girls waiting for him to get out fails to notice; she is too busy eating. Her long hair is white underneath its orangey surface.

G wants to help clean up after lunch, but drops the first thing she picks up.

J shows up to check on my mother. We talk about how little response we get from her, how oddly stable she has been over the last couple of years, how she does not know us, how she will not get out of her chair. When J kneels next to mom's chair, mom's face lights up. Yes, she will take a walk. We flank her, take her elbows and walk her to her room. From outside, I gesture in and say, there's a picture of Fred in there. Do you remember Fred? Oh yes, I remember Fred, she says, and smiles. Then the long trek back to the common area. Bonanza is on. Another scene of justice or betrayal.

Do you have more kleenexes? I need more kleenexes, says G. I keep losing my urine.

Those who remember their children's names will tell you. He's a good kid. Sometimes I wanna wring his neck, but he's a good kid. I never done it yet. Her mind isn't right, she says. She makes circles next to her head. Meshugah.

We lose our fluids. We lose our thoughts. We lose our minds. But we do not, it seems, lose that sense of home, even when we cannot express it. Are you going to take me home? is one of the most frequent overheard questions here. I want to go home now. I miss home.

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