The Joy of Dementia
She usually doesn’t remember who I am. I’m usually the coffee lady, I love seeing that recognition expressed on her face. When she sees me she leaps out of her chair and always says, “It’s wonderful to see you!” and I respond with, “Are you having coffee today?” and her reply is always said with a smile, “Oh yes, of course”.
But today was different; she greeted me with different eyes. She seemed to know who I was. My name wasn’t mentioned but we did the usual greeting though it felt very different. I must say that when I went to see her I was in a very sad mood and really didn’t want to visit her in that state of mind but I’m glad I did or I wouldn’t have had this most exquisite conversation.
It was short and sweet.
We went to the coffee shop and I bought our usual coffees and toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. I then sat down. Mum seemed to be in a pensive mood. Whenever our eyes meet Mum usually asks how I am (that’s every time our eyes meet). Then there’s the talk of the weather and how hot or cold it is.
This usually lasts for the 2 hours I’m with her but today I put our coffees on the table and she said, “How’s Cassandra and Jessica going?” I wondered what she was talking about and asked, “Do you remember them?” and she said, “Of course I do, they were only born 2 days ago!” We had the conversation that we never had when they were born.
Our girls were born at 24 weeks gestation via emergency caesarean section because their placenta came away from the uterine wall and I was bleeding internally. Mum and I have never spoken about it. I’ve never voiced my absolute fear about them dying or that I nearly died having them. We had that conversation. She spoke about the fear that a mother feels when her child (she was talking about me as her daughter) and grandchildren may die. Mum also talked about going to my daughter’s grave site (which she has never done nor ever spoken about). Our youngest twin died after a week of life but Mum remembered.
She was very articulate, which she usually isn’t but in that moment all her thoughts seemed to come together to let me know how she felt while I was going through the pain that I went through.
It was probably only a 3-minute conversation but it lingers in my memory as joyous.
I have never felt more comfortable talking to my Mum. I never knew that she felt this way. My Mum and I never actually had that type of conversation; I think it was the era. Children were to be seen and not heard and so my Mum and I carried this on because we were 2 strong women who were very guarded with our feelings.
I know Mum will never remember having this conversation with me but I will treasure it and will always be grateful that she had those thoughts when I was present to hear them.
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