This picture is my 93 year-old cousin Bunny with her son, John. You might have guessed it was taken on Christmas Day. I’ve written about Bunny before. She is a dear person who has reached a point in her life that none of us ever want to see—a vast netherland with no beginning and no end. It is the Land of Dementia and its population is growing with each passing day.
Bunny seems incapable of retaining recent memory yet she remembers the past very well. I always try to lead her to that land she remembers. It is populated with her parents and my grandparents along with numerous souls from the town of Norton, Massachusetts. My connection to the town is garbled in her mind. I did live there in my youth but Bunny was in her early thirties and long gone by that time. But she talks to me as a contemporary and I do the best I can to sustain the memory. It always seemed to bring her some joy to talk about “good old Norton.”
Today, however, was markedly different. I couldn’t lead her anywhere. For the first time she failed to recognize me. “You look very familiar,” she said. “It’s your cousin, Alice.” I replied. She nodded but I wasn’t sure the information conveyed very well. Her usual enthusiasm at seeing my dog Tango was also absent. We attempted a conversation about the recent Christmas celebration but she couldn’t recall it. Then I told her that her youngest son would arrive tomorrow and that his children—now adults—would be bringing their newborns. That piqued her interest. “A new generation?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, “a whole new generation.”
For just a moment the Bunny of old emerged from the gripping fog of her dementia. Her eyes got bright and ever so sweetly she simply said, “Wow.” ❧