who am I?

That’s the question she asked as she finally sat up in bed somewhere close to noon today. Usually she asks “Where am I?” Obviously, her dementia has gotten worse.
I tell her her name, in Polish, in English, her maiden name, her married name. By then she’s onto her other worry — “Can I go home now?”
It’s night now. I was with her most of the day, since my brother had a dentist appointment. When I’m with her, I try to respond with care to every question, every mood, every demand. After all, her world must be truly terrifying. And I’m her anchor.
Except she’s my anchor as well. I can’t move beyond her peripheral vision, or she panics. She is downstairs now with my brother, banging her cane on the floor and calling for me. My contact at the Alzheimer’s Association local chapter tells me that it’s not unusual for dementia patients to latch on to the most trusted caregiver and constantly shadow them. That’s what she’s doing, and it’s making me crazy.
I am holed up in my room, television blasting so that I don’t have to hear her distress. I am eating cherries and chocolate chip cookies. My stomach is in knots.
Meds only seem to make her worse in other ways. She needs 24 hour care, and it’s become too much for two people. But my brother wants her with him.
And I want to get away from this whole situation, even though she pleads with me: “Take me with you.”
It’s beautiful here on the mountain. But it’s also a prison, especially for her.
“Where are the streets?” she asks. “Where are the families?” she wonders as she looks out the window at the lush trees and patches of blue sky.
It’s hard to take her anywhere because she needs a toilet nearby. And her mood can go from placid to panic in a heartbeat.
She has lived too long. I hope that I am not still alive at 92. Or if I am, I still have my mind and my sense of humor.
Meanwhile, I’m sorting through all the stuff I brought with me to this place and downsizing. And packing.

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