Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Living a Dream

On an almost daily basis, Sally approaches me about dreams (hallucinations?) she has. I speculate that she dreams overnight, and upon awakening, she thinks her dream was reality. She really can't tell the difference anymore.

Her dreams usually concern one of two things: (1) little items from her past of little or no monetary value, (2) people in her room.

Yesterday, she lurched toward me immediately upon sighting in the morning. She declared she'd been awake all night, because she couldn't find her "aurora" brooch and earrings.

"I was up all night, searching. Do you have them?" she asked, looking bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

From experience, I knew she'd not been up all night, or she would have looked, and felt, exhausted. She dreams about the brooch and earings on a regular basis.

The "aurora" brooch, as she calls it, has been on what's left of her mind since her arrival in Kookytown. I don't know to what brooch she's referring. From her description, I conjure up vague images of sparkly costume jewelery from my childhood memories. I've told her that if the brooch is the one I'm thinking of, that I haven't seen it in literally decades, that I think she gave it to my niece many years ago, and that in any event, it had no value, and we can go buy something nice for her sweater, if she wants.

None of this sinks in. She admits the brooch was costume jewelery. But it's important that she locate it. She refuses to dig out the picture of my niece, the one I remember at the back of her photo album, the one clearly showing Sally's grand-daughter wearing the sparkly brooch I'm thinking about.

And every few weeks, it starts over. Sally forgets that she's asked me about it. She dreams about it, and pesters me relentlessly the next day as to its whereabouts. She becomes obsessed, incapable of letting it go, driven to almost frenzied distraction.

"But I just had it last night," she'll moan.

"Well, where did you put it then?" I'll shoot back in irritated tones.

"Well, didn't I hand it to you?" She looks beseechingly at me.

"No mother. Not last night, not last month when we talked about it, and not the month before that."

Yesterday, I wrote in large letters on a clean sheet of paper: DATE, TOPIC of DISCUSSION (Aurora brooch and earings), and the note that this is the tenth time we've discussed it since she moved in with us.

I asked her to leave it on her desk in her bedroom. That way, if she thinks of the brooch (or any other things she dreams about regularly), she can refer to the sheet. And hopefully, leave me alone.

She lost eye contact with me and began the breakfast dishes, letting the tap run rivers of water as she piddled about with two cups and a saucer.

I went out on an errand, returned an hour later, and found the sheet of paper covered in her scrawls and doodles. She looked puzzled.

"You left me this note?" she asked. Clearly, she had completely forgotten our conversation and my instructions about the note.

I tried to be patient and reminded her about the morning's conversation.

"If you leave this note on your desk, you can look at it when you wake up in the night, or whenever, to remind you that we've already discussed these topics, and that I don't have these items." My lips were moving and sounds were coming out, but Sally looked like I was mooing at her.

"OK dear." She pronounced these words with kindly condescension, as if speaking to a child.

Then she shuffled away, slippers flapping, housecoat drooping tiredly on one side, and left the sheet dangling in my hands. I knew it was useless.

As for #2 above, people coming in her room in the night, it seems pretty much evenly divided between strange men who visit her sometimes, or either me or Anthony. She's got quite the lively social life, in her bedroom, at night after the lights are out and we're all asleep.

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