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I sit in one of the overstuffed chairs the Home Away From Home facility supplies. The heavily padded monstrous thing eases the constant pain of sitting as I sink a good three inches upon contact.

Living in this home was my decision, I’ve been losing my marbles so to speak, but I still miss the little luxuries of home. Wooden chairs, for example, are uncomfortable in my old age, but I still want the option of sitting on one. Here all we have is padded. I suppose someone must have bumped into something and done enough damage to warrant the cornerless, and solely padded furniture. 

Still, for those of us bright enough to not stumble blindly about wreaking havoc to everything we touch, and breaking a bone every time we happen to stumble, there should be a wooden chair just so we know we could sit in it if we wanted to. 

The days blur together here, full of embarrassing moments where I leave my room only to forget a moment later why I was out, or where I was supposed to be. There have been many moments when I find myself searching for my room. Sometimes I send an hour shuffling with my walker down the thick (padded) carpeted floors, looking for that photo of Darla on my door. 

Darla was a beautiful wife, she was one of the few who could tell me that I was a complete idiot that I would believe. Of course, many others have called me the same, but why would I trust an idiot who called me an idiot? Complete foolishness that!

The only good thing about losing this faulty thing called memory is that sometimes I can forget that she is gone. Sometimes I can convince myself that she is just out running errands or on one of her long walks through nature. Those are the best times.

Sometimes people come to visit me. Sometimes I even recognize them. It’s really enjoyable when I know them because then I don’t have to pretend to know, or even worse, ask them, their name. 

As time goes on, names continue to fade from me. In the beginning, I may not have been able to place the name to the face, but at least I knew the face. Now, I don’t even know the face. I know I should know the face, but I don’t. What makes it really scary, is sometimes I’m talking with someone, someone I know, and then suddenly it’s gone. Suddenly this person I had just been talking to is a complete stranger to me. What’s worse, is sometimes I don’t even remember we had just been talking. I look at them and start our conversation all over again, “Hello, how are you?” and they sometimes pretend that it really was the beginning (or maybe it was the beginning), and sometimes they tell me that we had just been talking about how we spent summers fishing, collecting blueberries for Darla to make into a splendid blueberry pie, and so on. 

Those are the moments that scare me, because sometimes I’ll be looking right at someone who is related to me, and I won’t have the faintest idea who they are. I then have to pretend to know who they are, or I will see them fighting back their emotions. My eyes have yet to become useless, but sometimes I wish they were, so I wouldn't see the tears well in people’s eyes. I pretend I don’t see, I don’t know what else to do. I just smile and say something vague about childhood memories, like pushing them on a swing. Most of the time it works. Most of the time they make themselves believe that I really do remember them.

There are some people whom I will never forget though. I’m certain I will always remember my sons and daughters, just like I’ll always remember Darla. 

Today one of my daughters is visiting. I believe it is Laura’s turn today. She and Shawna take turns, every Monday one of them comes to see me, and we sit in the overstuffed padded chairs and talk about anything and everything. 

When I get the call that she is here, I move my walker at lightning speed down the hallway, the walls almost blur as I kick it into overdrive and go from shuffling five miles per hour to six. After a few short minutes, I raced into the reception room. Laura is there in an overstuffed chair flipping idly through a magazine. She looks up the moment my walker hits the shag carpet, the noise jumping from the whoosh of speeding wheels to a duller, and the louder squeaking of protesting two-inch wheels struggling through three inches of shag carpet. Why three inches of shag one may ask? Extra padding. 

Laura stands and crosses the room. Today’s outfit is a polka-dot affair, with a virtual rainbow of colors painting the dots. She always loved polka-dots. When she was young everything had to have dots, the more the better. Her love for them did not fade as she grew as she proudly showcased her one of a kind, undoubtedly self-made-self-painted sundress. 

When she reaches me she hugs me in that way that says, “I want to squeeze you, to show how much I love you, but I don’t want to break anything.” So the embrace was more of a lukewarm pat than a real hug. 

She guides me to the overstuffed chairs, chattering about how her son- “he’s three can you believe it?”- just helped her bake some cookies - “and of course we brought some for you!”- and how he is going to be a “right chief when he grows up.” 

I nod in the way a doting grandfather should and never bring up that last time she visited he was going to be the next Mozart because he pressed the buttons on some musical toy. 

We sit in the companionable silence enjoying each other company. 

I can’t help but wonder why I am in the visitor reception area. I never come in here unless someone comes by. Then I hear a voice, a droning feminine voice filled with boundless energy. Looking over I see her, a visitor I suppose, wearing a bright dress splashed with dots of every possible color. Automatically I fish through my thoughts, trying to place a name to the face, a relationship to the face, a story to the relationship, but I can’t. I just can’t

She smiles and tells me all about her son, and she is so familiar. I should know her. I definitely should, but for the life of me, I don’t. 

Who are you?

“And the flower exploded all over the kitchen! It took forever to-”

Who are you? 

“I know you’ll just love them. They’re peanut butter chocolate! Your favorite!”

“Who are you?” The question comes out a murmur, but it halts her unceasing ramble. Her face scrunches up and I know she is fighting back tears but I can’t help it. I should know this stranger. I feel like her name and past are on the tip of my tongue but the more I try to chase it down, the more obscured it becomes. 

I look at her face, desperately trying to place those all too familiar features, as a tear falls down her cheek. I shouldn’t do it, but as I watch her fall apart in front of me, I can’t help it.

“I’m sorry, but who are you?

May 18, 2020 21:05

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1 comment

17:45 May 28, 2020

This is an original story with an original idea and an original plot. I feel bad for Laura, really. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into the life of a... Person with dementia? I appreciate.


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