I spent the past few days with my mother on a visit to the shore to celebrate Daughter’s birthday. I was struck by so many instances of frustration and sadness in this trip. I could go on and on about how confused my mother was, how she didn’t know who people were every now and then, or how she argued and yelled about how she will never leave her home immediately on the heels of telling me she wants to sell her house. I could tell you all about how we tried to play a word game and not only could my mom not make words that were real, but she couldn’t even orient letters in the correct direction sometimes. I could tell you about how she insists that she wishes she had died from the cancer and never undergone chemotherapy and knows that all of her children feel the same way. I could tell you about all of that, but I won’t.
Instead I will tell you that I wish I was an illustrator. I wish I could draw for you a picture of my mom with the horrible gremlin of dementia on her shoulder. I wish I could show its evil face as it whispers things into her ear, things it just makes up from her fears and aggravations. I wish I could capture her confusion in pencil and paper to show you what it does to her. I don’t know why I feel the need for this to be drawn, but I do.
But I can’t draw, so I sit here impotent, utterly unable to express to you what I want to express in the way I want to express it, and I realize that this is how she must feel. So I take it in, and I grieve with her and for her, and I feel the frustration, too, and I hope it makes me patient.