dementia in the house
a few years before he died, he lost his mind. not just his sanity, but his entire fucking mind, with all the abilities and functions it once possessed. not the best way to go if you asked me and certainly not the best way to spend the last years of your life. sometimes i catch myself wondering when he really left us, on when he really died. was it the moment that his heart stopped beating or was it that instance when the last of his thoughts faded away and he became a mere symbol of what has been, not much different to tombstones, urns, and monuments (albeit a walking and breathing one)?
looking back, no one really knows how it started. some say it began with the flaring of temper, others say the shuffling of papers ushered it, while still others believe it started during his season of drought when he stopped taking a bath and his skin dried up. but come to think of it, when one already knows the ending, is it really important to figure out how it began? all we really have to know is that its not an easy journey the moment it started and it gets worse towards the end. like a storm setting up the stage for a major catastrophe with darkening clouds and powerful winds, he started the tragedy with small inconsequential, irritating, but still bearable idiosyncrasies. he started becoming obsessed with locking doors, gates, and drawers, accumulating papers and documents folded numerous times in his pockets, slamming unlocked doors, and folding and unfolding his clothes in the cabinet.
no one of course paid attention to these things. we all lock doors, fold papers, and arrange our clothes. there was nothing beyond normal about it at that time. until the shouting began. he shouted at everyone: his kids, his wife, his mother. and that’s when we began to suspect that something is happening that should not be happening. but before we know it, the tragedy is upon us and there is nothing we can do but sit back and watch as the painful story unfolds.
as his weird habits start gaining momentum, occupying his hours and filling up his days, his memories are slowly being shoved out of the way. again, no one knows for sure which memory was the first to go, but everyone is certain that the first ones to be hauled off into oblivion are those memories that matter: the name of his mother, his siblings, his kids, their anniversary as a couple, her birthday, his years of growing up, his friends. He would come across his mother and not know who she is, he will smile at his kids but could not remember their names, and he would sit beside his wife but did not know when, how, and why he love her.
but those were just memories. things we do, bonds we make, relationships we build, so that someday when we get too old to do things, make bonds, build relationships, we have something to remember, something to help us get by while we sit on that rocking chair awaiting for the setting of the sun. there are much more vital things that a person can forget. things that i thought no one can forget until he did. one day he just forgot how to drive a car, forgot how to read, forgot how to use a remote control, forgot how to lock a door, forgot how to sit on the urinal to poop, forgot how to use a spoon and fork, and eventually, to our utter surprise, forgot how to chew. all he did remember was how to lie down.
at that time, whenever i see him from my bedroom window, i could not help but think: who are you now? now that there is nothing left to try to figure out? who are you who looks like a person but does not have the things that make a person a person? who are you and who are we in relation to you?
several years have already passed. his shell has finally left us. i did not know if there was grief or whether there was relief at that moment. it seems we have mourned for him way in advance, back when his memories have died. we prayed for his soul, we buried his body, we consoled the family. everything seems mechanical now. going through the steps to make a passing away official. he have of course died a long time ago, but still, we need to do these things to seal this long-playing tragedy. put an end to the story. and hopefully, like him, to forget.