I read of the white plaques on the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. I look at mom, picturing the landscape under her skull – splotches of white paint on ancient fissured walls devoid of sense with the passing of time. Were those prints ever meant to convey anything? I was here, here in your olfactory cortex. You used to smell the roses, balk at cigarette smoke, enthuse over wine. I was here, in your visual cortex, see the rugged wall under my print? It speaks of faraway countries, and distant lands of the imagination.
Now you see ghosts, reinterpret the shapes into abstract concepts that confuse me. I strain to grasp the meaning of your words as they mercifully still pour out of you. I tentatively offer my version. You look at me sternly, “Never mind, you don’t understand.” I feel I am failing you. You point to paintings, your own or your son’s. You discuss weight, colour, light and shadows with large gestures. You glow.
I know you are not beyond meaning. You sit contented, try and engage me. Your temporal lobe is still vigorous; it remembers sound. Your body sways to the music, any music; you know the words to every song. To every music, you create your own lyrics, the words conveying your feelings.
I introduce myself, recite the names of your children, point mine out. “See, I am the girl, your daughter,” I say proudly. I smile. You smile back.