So the other night, as I’m helping Mom get ready for bed, I said to her, “You know, it’ll be really nice having you here for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“Yes,” she said. “Providing I don’t get snowed in.”
Had a bit of confusion for an instant, then I replied, “You’ll already be here, Mom.”
She looked at me in surprise. “I’m not going home?”
I shook my head.
“I’m never going home?”
I shook my head again, hating the lost expression in her eyes. “This is your home now.”
“Oh.” She looked at me for a moment in silence, her face devoid of expression. Then she said, “There’s no home for me to go back to, is there?”
There’s no point in explaining that the house still stands, that it remains in the family, and that, indeed, family will soon reside there. She wouldn’t remember I’d told her, or she’d only remember bits and pieces that would further confuse her. It’s clear from conversation that the “home” she recalls is not the last home she lived in, the house in Saratoga, but the one before that in Clifton Park (and, on some days, the one she lived in as a child, the old farmhouse in Oakfield, Maine).
What must it be like to lose your moorings bit by bit? To have your memories erode, to have your life change just at the point where you most crave and need stability? What is it like for those without children or families to give a damn? How frightening that must be.
I hope I never find out for myself.