It’s a beautiful day outside. As I walk in, I see her sitting in her regular spot on the couch, I haven’t seen her for several weeks and I feel ashamed. My parents come to visit her a lot and I am always working or something. Today I am finally here.
We exchange hugs, pleasantries and I begin to share a memory. She’s 97 years old and has had many experiences.
In 1979 I went on my first plane ride and came to see you in California. You and Grandpa took me to Century City and there was a band playing. She has a far off, dreamy look on her face and she begins her part of our story.
It was in the fall and you guys danced a lot. That was fun!The band was good and we laughed a lot. Steve worked there at that time (that’s my uncle). He worked at a restaurant there. She reminded me that we ate Chinese food and shopped in Chinatown that day too. I reminded her that while I was in town, we also went to a haunted house with my Aunt.
I am a big scaredy cat and don’t do haunted houses, ever. That is unless my Grandma wants to go, she likes them. She led the way holding one of my hands, my Aunt held the other. Did I mention I hate haunted houses? We were almost through with the haunted house, we had to be. I was already scared and didn’t want to be there when my Grandmother suddenly pushed me to the front and they had a tight grip on my shirt hiding behind me and pushing me forward. As I retell my version of our haunted house experience, she starts laughing, I did not push you in front. Yes you did and then… I continue the story… We rounded the last corner (we didn’t know it was the last one) and I started screaming, they started screaming because I did. When we turned that corner quickly, remember they are pushing me, someone was coming at me fast and I swear it was one of those moments you wish you would have used the facilities before you started this “fun”. I stopped dead in my tracks and they crashed into me and I began laughing hysterically and when they looked up, they burst out laughing too. There we were staring at ourselves in a mirror! We had scared the crud out of ourselves! Her laughter is rich and carefree as we remember together. She pats my hand and says “That was fun!”
As we take a break and talk with my parents for a few minutes, she turns to me and says “And who are you?” I’m Pam your granddaughter.” Oh you can’t be, you’re all grown up! ” She asks how old I am, Do I have kids and a variety of other questions that I have heard over and over again in the past several years. Our time traveling is over. We have traveled back in time and remembered the joy and laughter and love we share and have now landed back in current day Phoenix.
Dementia is hard to understand, it can be sad and yet, when I time travel with her, the feelings and laughter and memories are a real part of who we are and were. The woman who I made sick on the tea cups at Disneyland, who made me ovaltine and who loves me, the only granddaughter, is alive and well somewhere inside that 97 year old body and mind. She lives in another place and time but sometimes I get to visit there and it’s beautiful, precious.and something to celebrate.
Look for the moments my friends,