Last night Grandma was rather talkative. She made plenty of fun of herself as usual, but also expressed frustration at the fact that her mind is “running away” from her. She kept saying “I’m a horrible old creature” and “there’s something wrong with the old lady”.
I asked for clarification and she said “my mind”. We chatted about that a bit and she said that she sits there all day thinking just like she always has, but when someone asks a question, her mind goes blank and she becomes flustered.
“I don’t like to be stupid” she said.
Whenever she gets like this I try to reassure her that it’s perfectly normal at her age to have some memory loss. I also tell her that I don’t think she’s stupid.
She said, “But I’m still young on the inside”.
“One of the cruelest things about life”, I told her, “is that we always remember how we used to be even as our minds and bodies start to go”.
I explained that just recently I’ve started to realize how quickly time is going by, and that it scares the hell out of me to think that the next thirty or forty years is going to go by in a snap.
“You’re just a kid”, she told me.
That gave both of us a laugh.
We sat quietly for awhile, both lost in our own thoughts. I asked her to let me know if there is ever anything I could do to make this easier on her. I don’t expect that she ever will. The path from thought to expression of thought has become a minefield for Grandma.
I am thankful for moments like these, when she’s relaxed and able to communicate clearly and without hesitation. I know that these moments are going to become increasingly rare as time goes on.
What she expresses when she’s like this proves that her mind isn’t simply idle all the time. There’s clearly a lot of thought and even self-reflection happening in there. It’s not the mind that’s broken, it’s the means to express herself that is failing her.
But what do I know? I’m just a kid…