Today Mom and I are heading to the lovely state of Alabama to see Aunt Bettye. Aunt Bettye is well into her eighties and has severe memory loss. She met me when I was five, but doesn’t remember that any of us exist; she remembers Mom as being single and 20 (younger than my little brother; Mom says, “It’s nice to be remembered young”). This fall Mom and Dad spent about three hours teaching her to use her cell phone; Dad even made labels to remind her which button does what. The next day she called them again, saying that she couldn’t get her cell phone to work. After a long, confusing conversation, they finally figured out that she wasn’t holding her cell phone at all – she was trying to make calls on her TV remote. In Aunt Bettye’s own words, “It’s so awful to get old and lose your mind.” (I’m not trying to be funny; it really makes me ache for her.) I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling that this is going to be the beginning of quite an adventure – perhaps a long one.
Actually, we’re not just going to see Aunt Bettye. We’re going to bring her home with us. Last week, she was in line at the bank, fell (we’re not sure why – passed out? mini-stroke?), and broke her wrist. She’s more spacey than normal this week(!), and we’ve been trying to make sure that she has people to stay with her until we can come. I get the impression that she may be staying with us for a long time, perhaps indefinitely. At the moment, I’m feeling a strange mix of curiosity, anticipation, and foreboding, all with a big measure of “this is the right thing to do.” No doubt, there will be more updates on Aunt Bettye in the near future.