Monday, August 3, 2015

One, two, three ...

One time, my grandfather, whom I never knew, accused my mother of killing his dog. The thing is, there was no dog. The dog he was thinking of had died some years earlier. This was my dad's dad. He was living with my parents in those days because of a worsening problem with senility. Neither I nor my brother had been born yet. My mother was a very kind and sensitive person, while grandpa, by all accounts, had always been something of an asshole, even in his right mind. Well, my mom would try to reason with grandpa about that dog and then one day he hauled off and hit her. After that, my dad sent grandpa to the 'old folks home', and, soon after, he died, under somewhat suspicious circumstances, with bruises about his head. They said he had fallen several times.

Sad story, I guess. Like I said, I never knew him. But I know my parents always felt badly about what had happened, as if it had been their fault.

Sometimes people can get an idea in their head, and the more you reason with them about it, the more insistent they become regarding the delusion. A complex has developed, superseding commonplace reality, and the person so suffering will defend the complex at all costs. I saw this for myself many times as an adult, working in an adult foster home, and then with my own mother when she developed Alzheimers.

With a stranger, it doesn't really matter. You did not know them in any other form. Their delusions are who they are. But with someone you are close to, it is very difficult indeed. You know them only as they were, not as they have become.

My mother used to count to three. One, two three. I taught her to do that. I thought it would calm her. Just count to three, Mom, and take a deep breath.

One, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three.

Just tap your heels together three times and say, There's no place like home.

She got into such a habit of counting to three, that she would not, or could not stop.

One, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three ...

And then one time, just before the end, she did stop for a moment, raised her eyes to mine, focused for the final time in her life, and said, 'I love you.'

Those three words.

And then began again - one, two, three; one, two three; one, two, three - until the final breath parted from her lips.

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