“Do you remember the names of my children?
“Stephanie. Natalie, and …” There’s a long pause. Then Bea says slowly, “Martha.”
I drop the subject and return a half hour later.
“Remember Stephanie who came this weekend? Stephanie, your granddaughter?”
“Stephanie, yes.” Bea is obviously searching through her mind to match the name with a face.
“Then, there’s Natalie.”
“Natalie,” Bea repeats, less sure of whom her dear Natalie is.
“And who is my third child, the one named after your husband?”
Bea ventures a guess: “Paula?”
“You know my son Paul who lives in California?”
Bea looks confused, so I show her a life-size photo of Paul and his wife Nathalie.
She peers at it and nods. “Is she his wife?”
“Yes. They just got married.” Since this news seems to register, I continue. “Last night they had a baby.”
“What a lovely thing to do! Now let me sleep.”
At lunchtime, Sven comes into Bea’s room where I stand by her bedside with a bowl of yogurt.
“Congratulations,” he says. “You’re a great grandmother.”
Bea nods. I am about to conclude the news has finally sunk in when she asks, “Are we doing anything special today?”
Bea’s regular nurse is on vacation. Diane replaces her. "Hello, Bea," she says.
"The name is Beatrice," declares her patient and pretends to sleep.
“It’s a big day, here, Diane,” I say in a loud voice, knowing Bea will be listening. “My son Paul and his wife Nathalie had a baby girl last night. Bea is a great grandmother.”
“Why, congratulations!” Diane exclaims.
“I’m a grandmother?” Bea asks, opening her eyes.
“A great-grandmother,” I say.
“Well, I hope I’ll be a GREAT great-grandmother …”