Was it Thursday?

I took a long train trip on New Year’s Day to visit my grandma for a few days. My Pa passed away two years ago, on New Year’s Eve, and I can almost think of him without tears forming. In my adult life, Pa has been and will always be my point of reference for ethics. Some people have the front page test; I have the Pa test.

I took the train with childlike anticipation. I have a baggage-free relationship with my Ma. She and Pa have always just simply been my grandparents; they have been a refuge and a comfort and a source of unconditional love.

Ma is in her eighties now and has been teaching kids with learning disabilities to read since the day she retired. She is small and feisty and fiercely independent. She doesn’t know it, but she gave me the name for this blog. She is funny and quick and smart as hell. She is also increasingly confused.

Last year she stepped backwards off a ladder because she thought she was on the bottom rung. One crushed vertebra; amazingly lucky. She forgets she is cooking dinner. She forgets to eat – though, in her defence, I do this too. She has taken to writing everything down in a book by the phone, and in a calendar/planner, but lately she has been writing things on the wrong date. Or forgetting to write them down at all. Or forgetting where she wrote them. She forgets to go to bed, and falls asleep at the table.

This has been creeping up, and she has been busily building routines and systems to compensate. Without Pa it’s been more obvious – but it also provided an excuse for a while so no one could fault her memory. It’s the grief! But these last few days she’s actually admitted that she’s forgetting things, and that it bothers her.

She’s a week or two overdue for her monthly B12 shot, and I’m sure that’s playing a part in her tiredness and in her confusion. But I’m not deluding myself that this is the full explanation. I am scared for her and I love her and I don’t know how to help.


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