The door buzzer goes off on my way in, I’ve forgotten again to key in the passcode, but the patients are not rattled, only the nurses notice the piercing sound as loud and long as a siren.
The unit is locked so patients don’t get out, don’t get lost. My mother has a bracelet around her ankle now, prisoner style, just in case. She wanders, my mother. Wandering is what got us here. The time just nine months ago when she left her condo unit to check the mail and instead walked to the post office, lost. That was the day we knew. We just knew.
Dirty carpets line the hallway, chipped radiators hiss with heat, but it is always cold here. And every one is old, so much older than Mom who is turning 74 next month. She’d been diagnosed with early onset dementia on her birthday two years ago.
The woman I know as Gladys, wears her usual knit hat and scarf with her striped pajamas; she startles me as I walk down the hallway. “My baby!” she says, “My baby!” speaking to the doll cradled in her arms.
“Looking for Mary Blue Eyes?” Nurse Kelly says, “She’s in her room.” This is what all the aides and nurses call my mother. When I peek in Mom is in her bed, sleeping. She is always in bed now, her long days distilled to a haiku.
Her usually chestnut hair is flat and dyed too black, I reach out for her hand that is thin as crepe paper, and her eyes open.
“Marci,” she says, and I tear up, because she remembers me on this particular morning.
“I brought you raspberry yogurt,” I say in a sing-song voice, ever upbeat when I am with her. I sit on her twin bed, I always sit on the bed, never on the upholstered chair next to her. I want to look into her eyes and see what memories are there today, maybe a short sentence, or a lyric from her life, or nothing. Continue Reading…