Heartache that dementia brings
|I stand in front of the dresser I had since I married. My room is full of memories that penetrate the fog my days have become. I still know that I am Emily. The Emily I see in this room is not old. She is not feeble minded. She is not afraid to go outside this safe haven. I want so much for her to open the door and know the loving family that waits downstairs for her.
I look back to the mirror and see the old woman I have become, she is so unfamiliar to me. Where did the golden locks go? Wisps of gray peek out beneath the brim of my hat. I notice the bright roundness of the blush on my cheeks. I recall a conversation with a friend years gone by, we were telling each other we would never become one of those old ladies with the lip stick outside the border of their lips, and the big round circles of blush on their cheeks. They look like circus clowns. I move close to the mirror and take a tissue. I wipe the blush and blot my lips. I may be old, but I will not be a clown.
The door knob is cold on my hand, as I turn it. I open the door and feel a cool breeze coming from the hall. I know this place. It is somewhere in my memory, but each day more of it is removed. I have a family. They wait downstairs for me, everyday. Everyday I know them less, as I try to find the family I remember. This is so cruel.
Lately I have been unsettled. Words get jumbled. I do things and I do not know I do them, or at least I do not know why I do them. The other day I found myself in a police station. They tell me I had wandered there. If I am right that was some hike I took, the nearest police station is about 20 miles from my home. I remember being scared.
I walk down the steps to the living room. The floor boards creek. I can remember trying to sneak out the door when I was young. Hard to do with wooden floors. If you step just right it can be done. This is a good place, but something inside is always telling me to find my family.
I raised my children here. My daughter Katherine is here. I think I will always know her in my heart. The Katherine I see is a little girl running under the Cherry tree. The familiar tree still stands out back of our home. The Katherine that lives here is very nice. I can see she loves me in her eyes. I love her back, as best I can. Honestly though I miss my family.
Each day this week we have sat in the kitchen next to the big window. Katherine sits next to me and we have tea. Today the spring air is full of the scent of the flowering pear tree. A warm breeze gently blows the curtain past my arm. Katherine seems sad. I reach out and touch her hand. She looks up at me and tries to smile, as a little tear drop falls down her face. I take my handkerchief and dab it. I smile and say, "No time for tears little girl, look outside it is a beautiful day." She sighs, and hugs me.
With that we stand and place our cups in the sink. I stop and inspect mine. These are the tea cups from my great Aunt. I always loved the little hand painted roses that encircle the rim of the cup. I stare at it. The little roses generate memories of our garden. We had all kinds of roses.
The curtain blows up from a gust of wind and brings me back to this room. I look up and Katherine smiles, "Thinking of a good memory, Mom?" I look behind me to see who she is talking to. No one is there. My reply, "Have you lost your mother dear?" She smiles again, this time with a little shake in her head. I can see it is one of disappointment, but my mind does not understand.
She takes me by the hand and leads me to the parlor. More memories are here, my mind starts to wonder to them. I see her grab her purse and car keys. I ask, "Are we going someplace?" She replies, "Yes, Emily we are going to visit the lovely home you like. You know the one down the road. The big old victorian were all the ladies gather for card games and chit chat." I smile. Yes, I remember this place. I had always thought what a lovely place it would be to live in.
We leave this place of memories and enter the sun filled day. Mechanically I get in the car, she helps me with the seat-belt, enters the drivers side and reaches over to me and touches my leg. Katherine says, "Mother are you sure you want to visit the Victorian Garden Home?" I scan the car for her mother. My reply, "Dear are you sure you haven't left your mother someplace? We could go and get her." She blinks her eyes and with a sad half smile replies, "That is ok Emily, I will just take you to the Garden Home. You have told me you would like to live there. We can check it out and see if it suits you." I smile back and nod my head, "Yes." We settle in and listen to the soothing music on the radio as we drive away from his house, I called my home.
In a short time we are pulling into a circular drive way of a grand Mansion. There is a lovely covered porch. I see white rocking chairs amidst little cafe tables line each side of the center hall doorway. Katherine takes my hand and leads me up the stairway. Several ladies on the rockers wave hello. I smile back.
We enter the door and I hear piano music playing. We are greeted by a young woman. Her smile so inviting, it makes me smile. Then I feel my forehead wrinkle into its state of confusion. I look to Katherine for guidance. In all honesty, I have no clue why I am here.
Hello Mrs. Whithers. I am Sam your hostess for this tour of our home. Your family will leave you with me for about an hour. This will give us time to get acquainted and for you to get a true picture of all we have to offer here at the Garden Home.
Garden Home. Now those are two words I can relate to. Pretty roses out back, enclosed in a nice white picket fence. My home with the cookies baking as my children came home from school. I remember that, I am sure of it. I turn and look at this garden home and it is not anything like my association to those words.
Miss Sam continues to talk, as my grip on Katherine's arm is loosened. She tells me, "You look beautiful today Mom. I am so glad you said you would come here today. I think you are going to like this place." All I heard was, "You look beautiful today Mom." I look down at my outfit. I scan the room, once again, for this lovely womans mother. She is not here.
A mirror is in front of me. I review my attire. I have a lovely skirt with matching jacket, the broach my mother left me on the lapel, and a stunning hat. I see a woman coming into the room. She seems to have a house coat on and is using a walker. I seem a bit over dressed for this place, even if it is a mansion. My forehead wrinkles again.
I see Katherine step back, as she fades from my view, her name fades with her. Miss Sam can see the uncertainty in my face and she springs to my aide. She says,"Mrs. Whithers, Katherine will be back in one hour to pick you up. How about we move into the sitting room for a cup of tea?"
Cautiously I take her lead, as she gently embraces my arm leading me to a another lovely room. There is a piano playing music. I am amazed, the keys press down as if someone is playing, but no one is there. Much like my mind, it plays, but I am not sure anyone is home anymore.
We sit as this young womans name escapes me. I resort to calling her Miss. I sip my tea, as she shows me a photo album. There are many ladies in it that appear happy. There are pictures from all seasons. The Christmas tree, by the fire place is warming. The flower gardens seem inviting. She even has pictures of the bedrooms here. Every thing is neat and tidy. A home that would be very nice to live in. I begin to look about, unfocused. This woman sees the uncertainty in my eyes. She reaches over and pats my leg. She says, "Don't worry Emily. I know all of this is new to you. What we are trying to do is find a place for you that you will be comfortable and safe to live in."
I nod in understanding, that is where I would like to be. I wonder though how life sometimes cheats you. I guess I shouldn't complain. I have my health. I have people that care for me. I just want my mind back. It is like having a million pieces of a puzzle. You sit down each day to put the pieces together and you just can't make the picture complete.
I ask, "Are there any rules here? Do I have to remember them?" I tell her I know I try, but I am not very good at remembering. This Miss is kind, she reassures me that the only rule is to enjoy your time here and we will keep you safe. I think I can do that. A flash of Katherine goes through my mind. She is telling me, "I must not go outside alone." She seems mad, no, maybe worried. I have cuts on my hands and knees and she is cleaning them, as she cries. I whisper, "Well I hope I can keep safe. I think that is why I am here."
The piano plays a familiar tune. I begin to hum along. I used to sing this to my little Katherine I am sure...
I wonder if I will find her here?