Fading Before my Eyes

"Oh look at that out there in the bush" she said excitedly. Even though I'm driving, I quickly look at what she's pointing out to me, swiftly bringing my attention back to the dark road ahead, illuminated only by the headlights of her little car. Out there, a fair distance from us, in the dark bush she had spotted what looked to be a large brightly lit cross, presumably attached to a church. "Lovely" I replied, giving it no more thought as I concentrated intently on the bumpy and winding country road ahead, ready to dodge the inevitable potholes that are all too frequently found in these parts. Mother, testing out a possible thank you gift for understanding and supportive fabulous other half. We were approaching a steep climb that winds it's way up a long incline, at the top of which the flattened road would lead us past The Cradle of Humankind. Time to change down a gear, the little engine, of the tiny red Italian car that could, buzzed furiously. "The cross is the symbol of Christianity" she stated over the engine noise. It sounded like she was making a statement of fact, but I had the feeling it was more a question. "Yes" I answered. Also sort of a question. "So then what's the symbol for the Jewish religion? Do they have one?" she asked this in a really matter of fact way, a quick glance showed the earnest expression on her face. Did she really ask this question? A feeling of numbness crept over me, then an empty pain in my stomach. Concentrate on the road, digest the question, compose an answer. "You used to wear one around your neck" I offered in the hope it might help. It didn't. "Did I?" Her question coming softly, only just audible over the engine buzz. Another quick glance told me she was sporting that now all too familiar confused expression.

"Yes, Dad bought it for you when we were in Israel, remember?" She had worn it for almost 30 years until an armed robbery in her home a few years back. It, along with much else, liberated from her possession by four politely spoken men in nice shoes. She only heard their voices and seen their shoes as she lay on the floor, tied up and bleeding from where she'd been hit on the head in the surprise attack. Later she confessed her only thought was hoping that they wouldn't harm her little dogs. They didn't. "Mmm, but what's it called?" she was unconvinced, frustration creeping into her voice. "It's a Star of David, a Magen David." I explained, giving her the Hebrew name too. She used to know this. Well, you would having been married to a Jewish man for almost 50 years! On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Dad's passing I was witnessing her slowly losing all that remained of him, her memories, and while I could still hold her, engage with her, I was still losing her, piece by piece. "Oh" was all she said as she turned away from me to look out the window into the black nothingness of the night, no doubt wearing that look of confusion. What was she thinking? Was she wondering how she could have forgotten such a thing? Was she reminded that her memory was failing? Perhaps she was just looking into the night. My face surely told of my sadness. I've known for a while now that her memory is failing. It's why I'm here, 6000 miles from where I now call home. Everyday of the past 3 weeks I've borne witness to her fading right in front of me. No matter how hard I work at sorting out her stuff, her home, her life, so that she can move back with me, she's still slipping away.

Mother with "The little red Italian car that could". "You look great for your age!" I hear people tell her. She does look good for an almost octogenarian, but it's scant compensation when you haven't the faintest idea who is paying you the compliment. When I visited last October, despite her protestations that she didn't want to move, I knew it was time. Actually, a little past due. This was never going to be easy, but time has taken it's toll on her memory and on her finances and it's only the lack of money that has forced her to agree to the move. She has accepted that she can no longer afford to run her own home and maintain her lifestyle. Dad provided well for the retirement that he would not get to enjoy, but Mother's fixation with giving money to my wayward sister, her brood of 4 children, numerous husbands and hair brained schemes has meant she has little left other than the sale price of the house that I've just worked my butt off to rescue from the Miss Haversham state it was in, managing to achieve a most agreeable price in the current economic times. With careful management and a little subsidising here and there, Mother's streamlined living expenses will be met. Sister dear will have to fend for herself. For my regular blogpals who have missed my entries, this post topic has been a logjam, one that I wasn't ready to write and I just couldn't write anything until I wrote this. Interestingly and coincidentally, my last post was actually on what would have been Dad's Birthday and this one on the 10th anniversary of his death. I so appreciate the concern and well wishes from my wonderful blogpals, a big loving thank you to you all. I am well and coping just fine with the challenges and have made huge progress and will be returning to the UK in a few weeks and hope to resume normal service.