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patio with a spot for a bird feeder. Birds stayed around all winter at her house as a source of entertainment because she fed them so well. I measured the room and, in my head, decorated it with some of her beloved stuff. The anesthesia had obliterated her short-term memory. Each time an orderly wheeled her to the physical therapy room it seemed to her that she was going for the first time. Bewildered, she could not learn. She abused the kind women who tried to get her on her feet. The doctor stopped prescribing the therapy. It was time to move on. The assisted living community sent an evaluator. Could she stand up on her own? Could she dress herself? Get herself to the bathroom? She flunked every test. I flew into a silent rage. How dare she fail? She would have to stay “indefinitely” at Candlewood Valley. I calmed down and brought a few small pieces of her beloved stuff to cheer up her room. She didn’t seem to notice. She became impossible for the aides to manage. I gave my permission to lock her in the Dementia Unit where her raving would be less disturbing to others. “It will be better for her,” the social worker insisted. Easier for you, for sure, I silently railed. The common room in the Dementia unit resembled a nightmare designed by Goya with the help of Tim Burton and a hopelessly cheerful nursery school teacher. The inmates were diapered; monotonous effort was made to keep them clean by lethargic aides dressed in baggy pajama-like outfits with cheerful little bunnies or bears in the design of the fabric. Repetitive drool wipers, they were, those aides. The minds of their wards were gone, some back into infantile petulance, weeping when a weak moan for attention was not immediately met. Their bodies were in various stages of decay, some twisted, some flopped over, some seemingly medicated to the point of oblivion. Clumsy arts and crafts projects were taped to the wall, dusty plastic flowers lay in pathetic disarray on one table, abandoned beadwork on another. At feeding time, orderlies would appear in hairnets with various prescribed meals, feeding most of the creatures by spoon. I visited on Fridays and Sundays and in all the time she was there, I saw only one other visitor in the Dementia Unit: an elderly woman on Mother’s Day. My brother arrived from California to witness the change in our mother. He was devastated. “I told you,” I said gently. I told you so, na na na na nahh na, I wanted to yell at him in the rhythm of the playground. Visiting her house was almost too emotional for him but we agreed it was time to sell. Brusquely, efficiently, with pen and paper, we listed the few things that he wanted. We decided I should clean it out, stage it, put it on the market and sell it. But I didn’t. A year passed. I darted in every once in a while to check. A drab film of dust settled, and between the windows and their screens, the spiders were busy. The water continued running, the heat and the electricity worked fine. It sat as it did the day she left. On Saturday morning, I wake early. I lie in my bed, staring out of the skyWindmill 119

Profile for Hofstra University

Windmill - December 2016  

The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art

Windmill - December 2016  

The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art

Profile for hofstra