I was flipping through the channels on this Sunday morning, for no particular reason, when I landed on the movie “Down in the Delta,” just coming on, and settled there for a few minutes. Until Aunt Annie appeared, the elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, who plaintively, hopefully, addresses the niece she just met as ‘Mama.’
I couldn’t take it. I started crying and flipped the channel. It just brought up too much of what I went through with my own mother. I’ll admit, I can barely hold it together as I type this. I didn’t know it still affected me this much, even though it is past, even though I don’t think much of it anymore since her passing three years ago.
Could I ever deal with this in my writing? Aside from a handful of poems and songs, I haven’t really addressed my experiences with dementia. Should I, perhaps, is the real question, or just let it continue to fade?
Not that it ever will, completely. That part of my life, those years as caregiver, remain with me. Maybe I shall feel ready to let some of that into my fiction some day. I don’t know. I do know that it is there and undoubtedly continues to have some effect on my life, how I think, what I do. We are our past.
And maybe someday I’ll be able to watch that movie. But not today.