She said this as her mother stood beside her. Her mother has rapidly progressing dementia. The mother of my good friend. I am around a lot so I see first-hand the angst of living with and caring for someone who was once vibrant, engaged, owned her own business and sang in the choir. Watching her awareness and recognition slowly fade. Saying I love you to her and watching her wonder who exactly you are.
She spent the afternoon making a gingerbread house with her in-home caregiver. While I was admiring it, I asked her who had made it. She told me she did along with “What was her name again?”. I told her I would like to take her picture with it. So she posed and smiled standing behind her gingerbread house. When I asked her how she liked her picture, she looked at it and replied “that’s not me”. I asked her if the ginger bread house in the picture was the same as the one on the counter to which she replied “yes, but that’s not me”. Yes, the blue jacket matches the one I’m wearing but that’s still not me.
The more I thought about her words, the more I realized she was telling the truth. At least it’s not who she was.
She doesn’t know what a Christmas present is anymore much less how to open it. I watched as she sat quite contently with a present on her lap. When prompted to open it, she carefully opened one end then just as carefully folded the corners back down, pressed the tape back into place then looked up with a satisfied smile. When prompted to open it again – this time all the way, she carefully removed the paper, looked at the box, set it aside and just as carefully and contently began folding and refolding the paper.
It’s sad. Sad that she does not know the Bounce™, picture frame, Christmas Tree and wrapping paper don’t belong in the refrigerator. Sad that she doesn’t know the woman who handed her the gift, the woman who gets her dressed in the mornings and makes her meals. Sad that she doesn’t know this woman is her daughter. Sad that it’s going to just get worse.
Please remember me. I’m your daughter. You live here. I take care of you. You’re safe. I just wish you knew who I am.
I miss my mom.