Mom used to read all the time. Now she occasionally reads the exit sign. Or part of the menu printed on the whiteboard next to the kitchen. She’s forgetting how to read. She’s forgetting how to walk. She’s forgetting how to feed herself. But she still looks at us with the love that is inside of her, at least some of the time. She takes my face in her hands and kisses my cheek. Sometimes. And other times she’s angry and she hits. She’s often loud. She’s more and less of the woman who raised me with saintly devotion.
She lives at Goldenhills now. She needs attention every moment of every day. They have taken us all in, not just Mom, into their family. Our new family grows and shrinks, grows and shrinks. Right now our family is the cowboy and the happy lady (they’re an item), the knitter, the moaner and the opinionated one (they’re an item too, even when his wife is visiting), the one with the big eyes, the bossy teacher/nurse (it depends on the moment), the kissing lady, the runner (they found her in the next town once), the fbi. The spicy one is gone. The conductor is gone. The man who wore his belt backwards is gone. The lady who walked and walked and walked is gone.
One day Mom will go too and I’ll have to deal with that final loss and the loss of my Goldenhills family. In the meantime it’s a very touching, a very funny family. They love me, even though they can’t remember my name. They tell me I should be a movie star. I’m sure each one of them would have wonderful stories to tell if they could remember them. But since they can’t, they create new stories every day. Every moment. They meet one another over and over. They have conversations using sounds that don’t make words and they smile and commiserate. They hug and kiss and they argue.
It’s just like life outside of Goldenhills but magnified and shrunk down all at the same time. It’s more and less of life before alzheimer’s. I like being there and when I’m not there I like thinking about being there and writing about being there. You may hear about it a lot if you choose to.