Dementiaville, a Serial of Decline
After mom died on Thursday last, I went to the YMCA on College Avenue to swim. We are a family of swimmers, and have been since I can remember. For me, swimming has a calming effect; the sameness of the stroke, the feeling of weightlessness, the muted topside noise beneath the surface, the sinking into serene turquoise; it all goes a long way to soothe the jangling emotions of loss.
But this time I thought of Mom, and in fact swam with her poolside. Even though she had eased on, it seemed like she was sitting there watching my cadence admiringly, encouraging me to stretch my strokes into another lap. She had given that encouragement to me many times as a child, and the memory now seemed alive, as fresh as the first.
If memories are saviors of sanity and couriers of love, then we are all blessed to have our faculties when our body takes its last breath. Unfortunately, when she left, Mom had lost that precious gift.
Dementiaville is a stop on a lonely road. There are no familiar surroundings and no reassurances. It begins with confusion, fear, uncertainty, and, eventually, oblivion of a particularly cold serving. It leaves the living wondering, when their loved ones pass, whether they passed knowing how much we loved them and how we cherished holding their hand(s) as they took their final breath.
But if there is any justice or compassion in Dementiaville, then those banished there have indeed found peace within a singular moment in time–the simplest, lightest childhood recollection–that has survived the mad sluicing of their memory.
I hope such a moment carried mom across the threshold.