Wednesday, September 27, 2006

All We Need Is Love

After talking sprees, Bea seems to go into hibernation. Nothing will wake her. I could march a brass band past her window and Mother Bear would not even flinch. I can remember Nurse Jane’s snapping her fingers and calling, “Oh, Be-ee!” several times to no avail on multiple occasions. When my elderly mother sleeps, she sleeps. Her breathing is rhythmic and low. She can sleep two or three days in a row like this.

I have just entered the bedroom as Bea finally awakens and looks around at the surroundings with enormous little-girl eyes that sparkle with the discovery of the world around her. How delighted she is to see me! Now that I have come, the day can officially begin.

“I want to get out of bed,” Bea declares and starts pushing off her covers.

“Not right now,” I say and gently replace them. “Maybe later, when Lisa gets here.”

From past experience, I know Bea will probably have forgotten by then. Her short-term memory has called in sick. Sometimes my mother will remember details from the beginning of the century yet be unable to recognize the names of recent acquaintances.

We run through our standard orientation drill. Bea always needs to know where she is after long periods of rest. I am reminded of my children who would do an inventory of their toy animals before I could turn off the light. Bea does the same when she wakes up. Only there is a problem. The routine today has produced disappointing results. Her hospital bed does not feel familiar. The room was renovated with rafters which she does not recognize. And her parents are not here. Where have they gone?

Bea declares in a small voice, “I need people to love me.”

My mother seems a little more lost than usual, a shadow of her former self. I empathize at her quandary.

ME: “I do love you. I hope I show it.”

BEA: “You do show it.”

ME: “Why do you say you need people to love you then?”

BEA: “Because I need love. You are related to me, aren’t you? Would you please tell me how?”

ME: “I’m your daughter.”

BEA: “I’m so happy to have a daughter!”

And so begins another day…

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