Speak to Me Only With Thine Dementia

“Oh. My.” She said it every morning. You would think he’d be accustomed to it, even tired of it.

But she had a way of infusing each word with childlike awe.

That was why he loved it; why her daily exclamation touched him every time. By now, he lived for this. He couldn’t imagine his day starting otherwise.

His wife turned, all smiles, and said the phrase she always followed with: “I think I’ve awakened in paradise.”

He rose and put his arm around her. Staring out their bay windows at the private ocean bay; he, as always, agreed.

©2022 Chel Owens

Photo by Thomas on Pexels.com

Written in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt:

November 21, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads!

Gramma Dear

Flowered pots and colored notes
fly gently on the walls;

Whose smiling, standing stick-men

Wave out from rainbowed pen?

 

Wrinkled cheeks and vacant eyes
of startling, once-clear blue;

What’s inside now, Oh Gramma dear?

What’s cloudy and what’s clear?

 

Gnarled hands and anxious grip
that once held mine with love;

Whose fingers do you think these are?

Whose hand felt from afar?

 

Silent words and down-turned mouth
mar lips that laughed and spoke;

What joke or story would you say?

What do you think today?

 

Who are these strangers milling round;
unfamiliar people?

Where is the you

You know?

cristian-newman-63291-unsplash.jpg

Remembered for Carrot Ranch‘s weekly prompt: growing older

May 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 14, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Cristian Newman

Do Not Acknowledge When the Grim Reaper Calls

Old Folks

I am afraid of dying. It’s not a unique fear, nor a novel one.

From people in the religious community to which I belong, my statement draws vocalizations of denial. They say life persists after death. They know I will see my passing friends and relatives again in some grand family reunion.

But even they avoid reminders of The End.

They do not house dying relatives, attend festivities at Adult Day Care centers, or wish to visit those inevitable hellholes that await the living: nursing homes.

They’re just as afraid as I am. We’re all afraid.

My parents took us to visit relatives in “care centers” when we were young. I didn’t like going. I resented being forced to sit there while some wrinkled, age-stinked woman barely recollected her younger years. I didn’t realize my parents didn’t like the situation, either. Still; it was a sense of duty, family, and love.

Perhaps our problem is not entirely a fear of death.

True, we are scared. We do not wish to stare at the handiwork of The Grim Reaper and know it is our end as well.

However, the whole picture of avoiding age is a painting of mural dimensions. The painting, of course, is not a happy scene of meadows, sunlight and wildflowers. It’s more like those dark-shaded scenes of swirling landforms and moody lakes.

painting

(Pinterest)

See those painted weeping willows over the water? They are not happy trees. They are our own, selfish sadness at losing our loved one. We feel the hole in our lives, to some degree. We recall happy (or sad) memories and accordingly droop to the reflective surface morosely.

Mountains and hills shading the background represent trials and difficulties. Why is an entire range present, and why are they so far away? We want them far; we don’t like discomfort.

Real life, adult life, needs people willing to face and overcome uncomfortable things.

One such uncomfortable activity is the care of helpless, dying humans. If you think you don’t want to do it, think about the people who are paid by hospice companies or care centers. The high turnover rate is an obvious sign that no one likes wiping old peoples’ bottoms.

Filler scenery like grasses, dips, valleys, and bushes are the long, unknown journey. It’s not a cushy trip, nor one we can predict the duration of. It’s annoying. It’s a detraction from our regular life and a depressing play on our emotions.

Finally: the lake. Water is a favorite metaphor in creative works. We think we see the bottom, though it’s a murky, weed-choked one. Simultaneously, saddened viewers may see a reflection of themselves on the surface, of their mortality.

The water is the dying one’s life. The size and depth thereof depends on their personality and experiences.

So, what now, art lover? Do you wish to continue avoiding your picture as it takes on more and more of your regrets and negligence?

Dorian Gray

(Wikipedia)

I don’t blame you, really.

I’ve brushed closer to Death within the last week than I’ve had to for many years. Good healthcare, I suppose.

My grandmother is drawing her last breaths, completely unaware of the world around her. She hasn’t been awake or eating for five days. She hasn’t known who I am for a few years.

She was moved to a special Alzheimer’s facility last autumn. It’s only ten minutes from my house, but I have not gone frequently. I’ve felt impotent, as she stares at everyone around her in confusion.

I’ve felt deeply saddened as I briefly made eye contact and saw only emptiness.

Why go, then? She doesn’t know.

Fear of an eternal religious judgment? I’m not that superstitious anymore. Mostly.

Judgement

Let me draw you a death-scene a little different than the one my grandmother is part of now. Different, slightly, than her being completely asleep; with her anxious children staring at each other for hours, for hours of days.

Over a year ago, we were told my husband’s grandmother was failing. Confined to her bed in a home shared with her oldest son, she woke occasionally and spoke little.

When I arrived, armed with disruptive children and a picture book of garden flowers, I found my husband’s cousin already there. She had brought a guitar. Patiently, sweetly; she strummed it and sang.

She had a lovely voice.

Right then, I decided I wanted to be loved enough that someone would sing me off to Eternal Sleep.

And that, fellow Thanatophobics, is my impetus for care of the elderly. It’s a Golden Rule sort of thing. How would I want to be treated? What attentiveness may I expect?

Given the obvious truth that I may be susceptible to Alzheimer’s as well, I’m likely to degenerate to a similar state of ignorance. When I am anxiously rubbing my hands, wondering at the empty walls of strange rooms, and feeling a strange sort of violation at having others bathe me -who will care enough to visit?

Will you?

While You Sleep

Who will love you, when you’re empty;
A stranger sitting, all alone?

Whose anxious faces keep appearing;
Some of whom have your blue eyes?

What hands will gently still your shaking,
With fingers just like yours?

What voices will tell nighttime stories
As you nap away the days?

Who will sing your childhood songs
In sweet, soprano tones?

Who will come, when days are past
And only night awaits you?

We will love you, Grandma, Dear;
We’ll hold, and tell and sing.

We’ll care for you, though you’re not here,
While you go to sleep.

A Different Path

I find myself at a loss for words, today -at least, for creative ones. Often when writing, I get some sort of inspirational idea. I think it over in my head, turning it round mentally like a monkey examining a shiny bauble.

I can’t just write shiny bauble, though. I need to express how the lights play within its miniature depths; how the fragile, intricate primate fingers clasp and turn the ball. Its head cocks to the right, then left, then right. Golden-green eyes stay focused, mirroring the reflected lights from its hands.

But, today is different.

I began the day in an industrial mood. Excited at the prospect of gem-hunting, I picked up my monkey and headed into the jungle. He cuddled excitedly against my shirt, chittering.

“So sorry, Miss,” a guide intercepted us. “This is the path you must go today.” He directed me back to the city, to reality.

The jungle flora gave way to recently-planted elderberry and yew, swaying amidst fresh-turned earth and wood chip mulch. Indigenous village huts became a one-level, stucco and brick building. It had a courtyard, the sort built only to stare at.

Alzheimer’s Facility, the sign read.

They let me in, said my ape was cute. He, in turn, burrowed his head shyly into my shoulder. He doesn’t usually say much to strangers.

After signing in, I entered somewhere scarier than any dark-jungle adventure, lonelier than any abandoned temple, more depressing than imagination -for, here at the end of our redirected path, lay the truest reality of all:

Death.

Though, not merely death. Here in the halls of failing minds; the shells of people shuffle, so terribly slowly, eventually to Death.

The nurses have thoughtfully detailed the lives of residents on little plaques outside their doors. “Bob was the middle of nine children,” “Doris was an active community member, volunteering anytime a helping hand was needed,” “Marie used to love visiting every grandchild on his birthday, recording the day with an ancient video camera nearly half her weight…”

It doesn’t matter anymore. There’s no one there.

Slippered residents wander, lost, examining a world completely incomprehensible to them. Maybe they have family, like me and my monkey. I came, embraced a seated woman, said, “Hi, Grandma. How are you?”

Her familiar face turned my way, completely void of recognition. Her light blue eyes, the ones she passed onto my father, looked emptily beyond me. She said nothing. She’s forgotten how to speak.

“Heh-wo,” my small helper chirped, trying to peer cutely up at her. She looked down at him, and sweetly smiled.