A lifetime of Memories
Lydia sat in her wheelchair, letting the sun from the window bathe her in warmth. A fake potted fern cast shadows in the light. She grabbed at the unfamiliar images as they passed across her legs. She feared them, but she was uncertain of why. It caused the woman to squirm in her seat. Lydia piddled and picked at the comforter on her legs, wanting the shadows to disperse.
"Good morning, Lydia. How are you? Do you like sitting in the sun? I can move your chair down a few feet so you won't be in the hot sun. Would you like that?" Margie questioned the woman, aware of her discomfort.
Lydia only stared at the woman, unable to answer. There were times when the right words needed to respond lay dormant in her mind. Today, even the caretaker looked unfamiliar. She didn't fear Margie, but she wasn't sure why she had appeared. Her memory was foggy and intermittent. To no one but herself, in the depths of her mind, she reminded herself that her name was Lydia.
Margie patted Lydia on her arm and pulled the wheelchair back a few feet, turning it away from the shadows. A new calm descended on the lady in the chair. She no longer fidgeted. The temporary objects of her stress were removed. Margie caught a glimpse of a smile as payment for her efforts.
"Gloria is coming to see you today! We need to get your hair done and put on a pretty dress for her visit. What do you think?'
At the mention of the name Gloria, bells clanged in her head. There was something comforting and familiar in the name. She searched her memory for some connection to the name, but the path to those remembrances had long ago been severed. The mental fog was capable of overtaking her without warning. She grasped onto the name, hoping for a face to emerge from the fog. She turned her face to the light of the sun. Gloria? She was flooded with warm thoughts and instantly knew the meaning of the name. My name is Gloria. Yes, I am Gloria! She flattered Margie with a bright smile.
Margie took Lydia's smile as a sign of excitement at the prospect of a visitor. She continued her conversation. "She will be here at one. Why don't I push you down to the room, and we can get started on our beauty treatment for the day?"
Without waiting for a response, Margie wheeled the woman to her room. Once in the room, certain objects became recognizable to Lydia. It was the space that she spent most of her time in these days. The wallpaper was colored baby-blue with daffodils. A large clock with bold black numbers and hands decorated with arrows indicated times for meals and activities. A wooden shelf stood adorned with many photos that made Lydia feel all at once at home. Many of her personal items were labeled with the object's name. They were used as part of her daily therapy. She failed to understand the reasons, but the quilt on her bed jogged her memory. It evoked a feeling of safety.
Margie pampered and prettied the woman in the chair. Lydia seemed content with the care. Margie talked incessantly to her patient. As she picked up the comb, she showed it to Lydia, reminding her of the object's moniker. She took care to show her every item before its use. When possible, Margie let Lydia make choices about the day's routine. Lydia chose baby-blue nail polish because her mind told her it was a familiar color. She chose a quilted housecoat because something reminded her that she liked quilts. She reached for the silver ornate hairbrush on the table. It was made of a heavy metal with stunning rhinestones at its center. Lydia rubbed the rhinestones against her frail hand, as if making a wish. A thought popped randomly into her head. My name is Lydia and this is my brush. It made her happy.
Lydia turned her head towards Margie with a smile. "My name is Lydia. This is my brush. Gloria comes at one," she whispered with a newfound pride.
With tears in her eyes, Margie said, "And who is Gloria?"
:"My daughter, Gloria is my daughter and she gave me the brush."
"Can you tell me the story about the quilt on your bed?"
The fog returned. Lydia shook her head and fidgeted in her seat. Margie told her the story to offer comfort from the fog.
"Lydia, you and Gloria made that quilt together from pieces of your husband's clothing. Do you remember Bud? You were married to him for forty-one years. The day after his funeral, you and Gloria sat down to make a memory quilt. Lydia, you once told me that being under that blanket made you feel like you were still wrapped in Bud's arms. That was the day you came to live here at Green Pastures."
"Bud was my husband. Gloria is my daughter. Yes, I remember," Lydia said with the fog momentarily lifting again. Tears flooded her eyes, just as they had for Margie.
"I'm sorry it is so hard for you these days. Alzheimer's sucks, doesn't it, Lydia?"
"Yes, sucks!" the frail woman whispered with clarity and emphasis.
Total Word count 893