Monday, April 11, 2011


After 96 years, certain things start to go. Like your short-term memory, for instance. 

I suppose it's called dementia. At its root it is a heartbreak waiting to happen with every interaction. So when occasion for laughter pops up, it is important to take advantage of it or you will end up in tears far more often than Jesus would prefer.

Mama started like the rest of us, not remembering the little things like what time dinner will be served or which day of the week it is. Slowly she lost that part of her brain which stores things like where she lives or what year it is. Eventually she lost the part in charge of remembering how old her children are, who her grandchildren are, and whether or not she has great-grandchildren.

It was shortly after this latest revelation that I, her favorite (or so I've always believed) granddaughter, was visiting her. After trying to no avail to explain our familial relation to each other, I pulled out her photo album for clarification. We flipped through pages, she recognized her parents. She pointed out her brother and sister. She seemed to know her children's baby pictures, but she had no idea how old they were or where they lived now.

But then we flipped to her childhood pet, a cat named Fred. And that is when a firework of recognition ignited in her brain.

"Oooh! Fred!" she exclaimed, looking at the photo as if she could will him right back onto her lap by simply longing for him. "I loved Fred," she said with the emotion of a lover lost. "I will NEVER forget Fred," she smiled at me, so pleased she actually had a memory after all.

I tried, Lord I tried to be happy for her. But really? Her cat?

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