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Archive for July 9th, 2020

* Tomorrow family and friends will bid this lady a final adieu … but we have been doing that for a couple of years now. This was my last visit with her, one I am so thankful to have had. If I might be so bold, if there is someone in your life who forgets more than they remember, go see them anyway … their soul is still here.

“I don’t think she will know who I am by the time I get there,” I stated to hubby one day, just weeks before I left for a trip to visit family.

My aunt (not pronounced ‘ant’) was diagnosed with Alzehimer’s Disease a number of months back. She has surrendered her license, her volunteer activities, much of her memory.

I had decided that if, when I called her on the phone, she recognized my voice, knew who I was, I would go visit her. Conversely, I had decided that if she did not recognize my voice, know who I am, I would not go visit her.

I want to remember her how she was …

That was my rational. One part, economical use of my time in the area, one part self-preservation (lets call a spade a spade … it was 1.99 parts self-preservation.

So, when I called her on the day of my departure (yes, this was something I procrastinated), when I said hello into the phone, I was shocked that she knew my voice immediately.

A thrill of hope ran through me, as I told her we would be stopping by for a visit soon.

It will be the same as always …

We arrived at the home she and my uncle have lived for as long as I remember. The home I spent countless weeks in the summer, playing board games, getting baking lessons, picking blueberries, watching movies and feeling like the spoiled niece of my (childless) aunt and uncle that I was.

The house, well-worn on the inside and out, signs of lacking maintenance by this eighty-something couple. Food, cooling on the countertops (breaking every food-safe rule), before being stored in the fridge or freezer. The outer porch piled with newspapers, saved for …

These props, extras in my periphery, meaningless to the woman I had come to see, who would know that I was there.

Our initial greetings were good, normal. Never an overly, outwardly affectionate woman, this aunt always had the sensible approach to life of Anne of Green Gable’s steadfast rock, Marilla Cuthbert.

With my first words, I made the first mistake … I asked a question about her whereabouts that morning. I knew better than to ask a question about something in recent history and I mentally scolded myself, as soon as my query was met by her uncertain response.

We visited nearly an hour, not another question from my lips.

We talked about my family, the distant past, looked at the wedding photos of herself, her parents (my grandparents) and her in-laws. I showed her photos of our kids, my hubby and videos of my lunatic dog that made her laugh.

She mentioned my sister who was travelling with me … actually my daughter. She looked … lost …

lost in the liminal space between a world she has confidently moved and navigated and one that she knows she should know, but the holes in her mind muddle the familiar into dark unfamiliarity … as though a constant joke is being told, and everyone gets it, but her.

As we prepared to leave I took a selfie with her, we each said goodbye (no doubt our last goodbye) and I whispered I love you.

That moment on the phone, when she knew my voice … that was what drew me to go see her. Maybe that was a push from another force, to honour this woman who planted the seeds of love and acceptance in me.

I needed to share in her lostness to remember that I need to love and care for others, not for how they make me feel, but for how I would want to be treated were I lost in a similarly disconcerting world.

I forgot that seeing her was not about me, but about her … what she needed.

That sensible aunt still lives within my memories and in her soul, to love when it cannot be reciprocated anymore is the most sensible thing to do …

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