I am on my knees in the elementary school library, shelving books, when I hear her speak.
“How has your day been going?” she says.
I obliviously continue to shelve the books.
She speaks again. “How has your day been going?”
I rudely ignore her again.
“Hello…you?” she asks a bit louder than before.
Finally, curious as to whom she is talking to, I peak my head around the corner of the shelf. The school librarian is staring straight at me. “Yes, you!” she confirms. “How has your day been going?”
Red faced and embarrassed, I stand up and face her. “Oh, I’m so sorry. It didn’t realize you were talking to me.”
The librarian and I are the only two people in the library at that moment. Yet when she speaks it doesn’t even cross my mind that she would be talking to me. I visit the aisles of the grocery store and see people talking out loud to the air. But, they aren’t really talking to the air. I sit next to people at the doctor’s office and I think they are talking to me. But, they aren’t really talking to me. I take the boy to school every morning and I think the other mommies are talking to their children. But, they aren’t really talking to their children. They are talking to the person far away in their wireless earpiece. They are living in the world of their headset. They seem to be blind to what is right in front of them.
I am on my knees beside her wheelchair in the care facility when she hears me speak.
“How have you been doing?” I say.
She obliviously continues to stare at the television.
I speak again. “How have you been doing?”
She wordlessly ignores me again.
“Hello…Nanny?” I ask a bit louder than before.
Finally, curious as to who is making that noise, she turns her head toward me. She is staring straight at me. “Yes, you!” I confirm. “How have you been doing?”
Blank faced and seemingly unaware, my grandmother finally faces me. She doesn’t seem to understand a word I am saying to her.
My grandmother and I are the only two people in the room at that moment. Yet when I speak, it doesn’t seem cross her mind that I am talking to her. I have visited her on both good days and bad days. But for now, this isn’t a good day. I sit next to her and wonder if she even knows me. But for now, I’m not familiar. I take to heart the memories of the past and hope that she still has those memories as well. But for now, she isn’t remembering. I am talking to a person who sometimes seems so far away. She sometimes seems to be living in a world inside her head. We both feel blind to what is right in front of us.
Another woman with Alzheimer’s who lives in my grandmother’s care facility enters the room. Or maybe it’s a visiting relative. I don’t know. She is talking to the air. Or maybe she is talking to me. Or maybe she is talking to someone far away in her headset. Or maybe she is talking to her husband that died five years ago. I’m not quite sure. I look for the Bluetooth. I look for an earpiece. She doesn’t have either. Or maybe, it is hidden under her hair. I cannot tell.
But does it matter? The end result is the same for me. She talks. I tune her out. We are disconnected.
Check This Out!
The movie Believe In Me is based on the true story of legendary Oklahoma basketball coach Jim Keith. His wish to coach basketball takes a surprising turn when he must coach the girls' basketball team in a small, conservative town instead of the boys' team he was expecting to coach. Great sports movie with the typical feel good moments.