Monday, May 29, 2006

Hunger and Thirst

Bea never thought of herself as old until recently. While this may seem bizarre, it is a reality to which I have grown accustomed. She is still not sure of her age. 93? 94? “I’m old,” she tells visitors.

Yesterday Bea slept so soundly that I did not even try to wake her for medicine. The sleep has made her ravenous. This morning she consumes two bananas, a bowl of yogurt, and some porridge, then orders, “Give these people a glass of milk.”

“Which people?” I ask.

“Beatrice,” she says.

I am reminded of how little children refer to themselves in the third person. Children drink milk, something Bea has never requested before.

“I’m balmy today,” she announces when I return later to check she hasn’t fallen out of bed again.

“You recognize me, though, don’t you? I’m Sandy, your daughter.”

Her smile indicates I have been recognized. Her skin appears smoother, more taut across the bony skull. Her eyelids do not seem as wrinkly. I remember how she used to tell me to get my "beauty" sleep. I guess "beauty" sleep works on elderly folk, too.

Every time I enter the room, Bea declares, “I’m hungry,” and I recite what she just ate. Usually she doesn’t remember.

I bring a glass of Ensure. She drinks it down without comment.

It has been a day of meals, alternating with naps. Funny, how my son just commented that his newborn’s major activities are eating and sleeping. My mother is not much different.

Now that I have changed Bea a last time and given her yet another mini-meal, I sit in the next room and wonder if she is going to let me sleep tonight. I am reminded of listening to my children’s baby noises from a hallway. I could hear them gurgling and cooing. Or, calling my name. Bea calls out, but not for me. I do not budge. I have already put her to bed. How much more readily one accepts the inconveniences of caring for a newborn!

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