“Who are you?”
The question comes from the other end of the phone line, uttered by my grandmother. Though we’ve been talking for a few minutes, this is the third time I have to remind her who I am.
“Oh, Tash. You’re living in New York?”
“No, Edmonton.” My aunt is in New York.
It’s not unusual for her to become confused, and my heart breaks every time I hear the fear in her voice. She can’t remember where she is, why she’s there. All she wants to do is go home, but that’s no longer an option, anymore.
The home is good to her, the nurses and staff love her, but it’s not the same. It’s not her house. And though one of her sisters is there, my grandmother doesn’t always remember who she is. For that, I am somewhat grateful. My great aunt has become unresponsive, and when my grandmother does remember her, she becomes upset because this is not the little sister she knew.
Whenever I talk with my grandmother, I’m left asking questions I cannot answer. Questions about what is the moral thing when a person’s body begins to outlive their mind (or vice-versa), what do we do when those we love are lost to the ravages of time and age, is there a part of her that understands I remember for her? That the love she had for me cannot be diminished or lost, no matter what is happening to her brain? Can she feel my love for her, even if she cannot remember my name or that I am her granddaughter?
I don’t know, and the sadness sometimes seeks to overwhelm.
These are the times I’m grateful I’m a writer, because every time I write a story, I’m reminded it was her love of books that helped to inspire mine because parts of her show up in my characters. I suppose then, that no matter what time or age might do, she can never be lost.