My Aunt: Old, 93+ years old. Poor, short term memory. Living in a mess. Almost totally dependent upon others for necessities. Yet, one thing she is in charge of is a sense of self re her body’s tempo, its fire.
She cannot remember all the doctors appointments.She really doesn’t remember a week ago in the ER. But, she knows something is missing in her. She uses an unheard of word today “depressed”. What now? “I was awake last night, just sitting there in the dark. I felt depressed like I have not felt in a long time. Am I going to suddenly die? I don’t want to die yet.” My voice quakes and becomes froggy. I clear my throat thinking of a wise response. I have nothing more wise than the absurd “I won’t let you die yet.” Hmmm? Brilliant.
“I mean, I am going to take care of you and help you live as long as possible. So, drink that water and make sure you have had more than Graham Crackers and tea.”
“But, I feel different. Like I have not felt before. I feel like I won’t see my next birthday (July 4th); just so tired and don’t want to do anything.”
We chat back and forth toward the topics that uplift: sunny out; time to plant flowers in front; let’s make soup together; what would you like to do right now?
“Well, I hate to ask this (I wonder what amazing thing will she ask of me?) but I have been wondering for a long time what is in that box over there under the TV and those cables.”
The TV and cables and tiles and tin signs are set aside and the lid is removed from the large fruit box: wow, what a surprise, three electric skillets with one plug in control that miraculously fits all three fry pans. She marvels at them and starts telling me about the purchase of each fry pan. “Really? You remember when you purchased these?” Silly question. She can’t remember going to the bank with me this morning, but remembers when she purchased the electric skillets. I repackage the skillets and placed them back in the box with the one control. The TV and clutter are carefully replaced atop the box.
I reprogram her TV for the hundreth time from the Spanish channel to an English channel. I turn on a light for her, check the thermostat and hug her goodbye. She asks me to come by more often please. She likes my company so much. Hours later she will talk to my wife and ask if I came by at some point today.
I won’t be discouraged. Somewhere in there she knows.