Sunday, December 6, 2009
Poignant, Sweet and Sad
On Saturday I traveled to Stockton to visit my aunt in the hospital, and my uncle who'd been moved from hospital to a rehab center. Both seemed busy in their own minds...my aunt who has dementia, visited with deceased parents and sisters out loud. Heard a sound and said "That's my dad's door"; aunt played with a ribbon I had brought around a book I'd made to show her, putting it in her hair, then making a hat from her napkin...she looked so cute, we laughed over this. Her wisps of white hair round her white face, I noted with not too many wrinkles, but eyes always large looking larger I decided, as her face must have shrunk some around them... She knew when I asked her who my mother was, and then who I was..."I know my niece Lynnie"... even though she called me by her sons name when I came in the door. I watched and listened and held her hand, as I observed her in this new world, one detached from mine, in and out, in and out, then dozing, waking, a few words spoken, dozing...so I finally after two hours left...wondering if there'd be many more such visits and would she know me next time? Next I drove the few miles to the rehab center/nursing home, where uncle had been brought the day before to recover from his fractured hip. Laying in the bed my dear tall dignified uncle always smiling, eyes lit up to see me come in. But I watched him take a minute to focus, take me in. But he knew it was me. He asked if I was up to speed (did I know all that had happened to him/them) I assured him I was. Then words came haltingly, sparsely...this man who always had a story to tell. His eyes looked huge to me too, as he would gaze out into space seeing things I could not see as he reached out to touch what ever it was. "a shoulder" he said...first telling me he had "double vision, but not double vision"...later he called it seeing pictures in quick consecutive shots...was he hallucinating? Possibly. "Psychology" he said...Then he followed with: "I guess we've had our last therapy session." ...uncle always called me his "doctor" calling to share his anguish, as his beloved wife's mind receded from his reality... we'd talk. I held his hand. I watched him mouth words, some in Yiddish, some English...then laugh quietly to himself...like he was hearing a joke, a funny story only he could hear...then he looked at me and said: "Lynnalay, you exude love." ....................I said it was because of him. Later I said: "You make me smile." He said: "It's your fault." I told him a story I knew from him, of how I met him at age five years old. He had red hair and was called Red, which I'd been told before our first meeting. But when I saw him, I said, "You are not red, you are orange!" My dear uncle looked me straight in the eye and said, "That must be when we first became so bonded."