I used to bemoan my mother’s habit of wandering around supermarkets in the USA and then she would start a fugue–or was it a cry for attention?–she would wander as if blind and bump into people and displays and then bang on her forehead and say: “Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça ?” “Are we in France?” She never thought we were in France when we were “en famille”. I thought it was the “LOOK AT ME” cry of the narcissist. My mother was a narcissist but not a malignant one. She wanted to be noticed; she did not want to steal or cheat.
I wonder now if I was too harsh on her: perhaps she did have some cognitive decline that was under more pressure when she was out in public? When she was not in her space, she was a bit confused.
And so do have I sailed the ships of all possibilities and come to the conclusion that I am in early or mid dementia. I can’t remember much of the past 20 years. I used to think that all my stress derived from SCOTUS awarding the presidency to Dubya Bush.
In 2016 I was entrapped by my own paranoia about what the success of that merciless fraudster would mean for the world. I walked around telling people that Trump would win and a lot of people would die.
So I am not attempting to cast myself as Cassandra, but I am asking myself: can true political stress, tension, and seeing people I care about getting shot, killed, incarcerated, executed, caged as a norm cause my dementia?
It’s possible. It is very possible that I was headed to a gentile decline but that Drumpf shoved me down the precipice of unknowing.
It is my dementia or the sameness of daily danger that has caused me to confuse whatever date month hour it might be? Is it the fact that my “games” are very counterproductive: i.e. to measure how long I can go without putting on a pair of shoes; to try to write a letter without a misspelling or a complaint?
I also have moments when I enjoy things more than I ever thought I could. Things that date me: the singing of Maria Callas and Titto Gobbi. The Robert Hass translations of Issa, the fantasy about how ants or moles or cats would dictate their lives if they were composing an autobiography: “Autobiography of a Mouse,” or “Autobiography of a House Cat”. And as I recall, those were the stories I tried to write down when I was about 8 years old. The older I get the more stubbornly I return to the person I was 65 years ago. Shy, introverted, in love with the imagination and poetry and opera. I did not grow up with a television and had decades of thinking I was culturally deprived because I knew not the characters on Gilligan’s Island or the subtle differences between the Dr; Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare.
But those years: I bonded with WH Auden, operas, Beethoven, and good literature. TS Eliot’s poems on cats and Sherlock Holmes occupy the niche where “Leave It To Beaver” should be.