— I just got big bunch of flowers and I don’t know who from.
— What does it say on the card?
— Anna Stanley.
— And you don’t know her?
— She might be the daughter of the man in the room next door… wotshisname…?
This is not a blog about what it’s like to have a dementia. It’s about what it’s like to love and care for someone with dementia while having no prior experience of the disease. It’s about bewilderment, frustration, resentment, sorrow, and occasionally, it’s funny.
My Dear Demented is Myra, my 84-year old mother living with vascular dementia. She’s intelligent, proud and loving. Also, stubborn as a mulberry stain on white clothing, shamelessly manipulative and to quote her: ‘flippin’ furious’—often all in the course of an hour.
This blog aims to bear witness to our stumbling journey together along the road to her death. I hope the observations and reflections recorded here by me and guest writers will help us, if not others.
I have no intention of speaking for those diagnosed (or not) with a dementia. Fortunately, there are now a number of platforms where these folk are speaking for themselves,
I can only speak for myself and tell you what Myra said.
The conversations are not all bad. Oftentimes I’m enchanted by a memory Myra trots out from her childhood in war-time Leeds. Or I’ll be gobsmacked by Myra’s matter-of-fact musings about family secrets my sister and I thought we were shielding her from. Then there are her bizarre conflations, when with deceptive logic, she weaves actual incidents together and comes up with a wrong but wondrous conclusion.
Many of the entries will be in the form of reported conversations. But they are reconstructed dialogues and as a teacher of auto/biographical writing, I’m very aware of the impossibility of truth in life-writing.
I’m also aware of the cathartic capability of creative writing, so write about this, I must!