I meet an old lady.
She invites me to her apartment for tea. I can’t say no, so I agree.
Her house is a small apartment in an old building, and she cries to me telling now that her husband is gone, there is no point staying in two houses.There was another house in the country, and it was big one with farm animals, small garden and heaps of her husband memories, but she couldn’t leave this one because this was her wedding gift and a place where she and her husband stayed before her kids were born. The muffin she baked freshly from the oven was delicious and she asked me to come again before they were all gone. I told her my dad would love to meet her because she matched my grandma a lot and would love to listen to her younger day stories.
I left thinking how stupid of me to even think to decline.
A few days later, I found myself near the apartment, I had sometime to kill so I went back to her apartment. This time she was crying again, she did not seem to want to let go of the house, and there was no one to look after her in the country. Social workers could be found who would go that far, and she did not want to go to aged care yet. She seemed pretty fit. Somehow I felt like she was family, as I hugged her and she cries, I didn’t know why I said that I will take of her if she stayed in the city, and that I will visit her every week, and she could treat me like her daughter. She cried more telling me about her husband, and this time I heard the story again. Memories of my grandma sucked in and I was in maze by the time she finished and once again offered her muffins. The feelings I felt as she cried reminded me of my grandmom and how much i missed her in my life. I told her after 15 years my true feelings for my grandma and cried aswell. I knew I had a strong bond with her and I found her.
A week later I go to her apartment to find her husband, a bit shaken I ask him who he was, surprised he asked me who I am.
‘’I am her friend, we met a couple of weeks ago.’’, I replied slowly, trying to understand the situation.
‘’I am her son, she passed away yesterday. She kept mentioning you, but I thought you were her imagination.’, he replied sadly.
‘’Why would you think that?’’, I asked curiously.
‘’Because she had severe dementia, she wouldn’t recognise anyone around her.’’
‘’She told me you were her husband. ‘’, I pondered back thinking she kept addressing me in a different name, but I ignored it; I kept thinking it must be old age.
‘’My father died five years back. She mistook me for dad almost always.’’
‘’She never recognised the nurse who looked after her for years. She kept referring back to childhood friends. She was stuck between different phases of time. That’s why I thought she was imagining you. I’m sorry, must be a worse shock for you.’’
I smiled. I didn’t know what to say, life is usually so simple and plain, and then such incidents make it otherwise. I wasn’t shocked but realised something. I wasn’t in grief because somehow I knew she was too good to be true; the day I spoke to her, I told her everything I wanted to tell my grandma. When I was young we always got into quarrels, we had a sweet and sour relationship. I went away from home for a couple of years, to a girl’s hostel for better education. She said nothing to stop me, instead she left me for good after six months. As the years went by, I wished deeply for a chance to meet her, but reality is otherwise. Reality helped me to fade her memories. Then, I met the old lady, who forgetting everything about herself, helped me recall my own memories.
© Tasnim Hafiz – 2012