My mother left the country last Sunday, and I hadn’t talked to her much since she returned to Japan. So, I called her last night (which would be around 11am on a Sunday, Japan time). We talked about random things, like how Kate Spade is having their Friends and Family sale, or that it’s been raining for the last few days where she lives. But the conversation wasn’t all casual. It’s been a month or so since my grandmother (on my father’s side) moved into a senior-living home. The family had been aware that she may have beginnings of dementia, but wasn’t completely sure. Now it seems that the dementia has progressed to where she no longer recognizes her own son, my father. She instead believes that he is her brother.
The issue of dementia in seniors is often addressed in the news, but perhaps it’s something that we don’t seriously think about it possibly happening to our own family member, at least I haven’t thought about it beyond what I’ve learned about through the media and class until now. I feel like what I’ve been thinking about, though, seems a tad selfish, very self-absorbed. At the risk of sounding selfish, I guess I’ll just write what came to mind. This situation made me think about our connection with reality, and what it might feel like to slowly be separated from it. I’m not sure if I could ever cope with such state if I was aware that this was happening to me. It made me kind of realize that having that reality in my hands—even when I might make a comment that makes one think that I want to be separated from it—is incredibly valuable to me. I never thought this much about just how important the value of being aware is, even if that awareness comes with stuff that I’d much rather not deal with. I’ve often thought about what it’s like to be oblivious, and what I’ve come to understand is that I cannot just exist without introspection, no matter how painful it sometimes is.
To know such crucial part of being alive is eroding away from my grandmother’s livelihood is so saddening. It’s a cruel way to close a chapter of her life.