As I enter her room this morning my chest constricts when she says, “Hello dear,” ― the generic greeting so innately mannerly. It’s how she addresses everyone now. Recognition has been erratic for a while, but the lack of it feels final today ― not a flicker of familiarity as we talk of this and that, or trawl as usual through albums of kinfolk, places, events.
When we sift through the messages in the Visitor Reminder Book my gentle efforts to ignite even one memory of recent family visits meet with her now trademark stare into nothingness. The occasional comments, “I don’t remember that,” feel like glimmers of a breakthrough, but they aren’t. Not even the drawings by the grandkids register. The Reminder Book had been a lifeline for staff when her anger exploded because she couldn’t or wouldn’t believe she’d had visitors. There is no anger now; the links have gone.
An ambivalent sorrow rises within me at the loss of her rages. The absence of agitation testifies that her essence is no longer retrievable.
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