Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Reversal of Roles

Last night I came back early from town meeting to change Bea. She looked up at me as I turned on the light and mumbled, “Why do you care? Is it because I’m your mother?” She wasn’t quite sure of our relationship that day, exhausted by the weekend, but at least felt sure enough of the answer to formulate the question.

On good days, Bea knows exactly who I am and tells me I’m an angel to care for her.

On bad days, Bea doesn’t recognize me at all. Sometimes she mistakes me for one of her granddaughters or a health aide. It was heartbreaking the first time she asked my identity, but I have grown used to it.

The mother/daughter relationship has become blurry now that her needs require diaper changes and feeding by hand. Once, in a clearer moment, she commented on the reversal of roles and how bizarre it was. When she asks who I am, I just say in a cheerful voice, “It’s Sandy. I know you recognize me.”

Bea will repeat, “Sandy. Yes, you’re my daughter …”


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