Okay, false alarm. Nana’s definitely still got dementia. A little day-trip to Lucidity Land had me fooled for a second there (‘Have we done the right thing? Could she have stayed at home a little longer? Maybe we were premature…’), but it didn’t take long for the return of the Alzheimer’s Alert.
“I hear you’ve had visitors,” I said, knowing Kate and Harper had been in.
“Who?” she wanted to know.
“Kate and Harper.”
“Oh yes,” she said, “just a lightning visit, really. Harper’s such a sweet thing.”
“She is,” I said. “She’s beautiful.”
“She looks out from under her eyelashes.”
“Well,” I said, “I think with all the universal adoration she’s pretty aware of her charms.”
“I think so. I’ve charmed a few in my time myself, you know.”
(Nana’s landed four husbands – not that she remembers them all now – so yeah, no kidding.)
“I’m sure you have.”
“Oh, there’s a very good looking one here,” she said. “Big strapping thing. Very handsome.”
Oh my god, I thought. That didn’t take long.
“So you’re on the dating circuit, Nana?” We laughed. “There’s a good reason to go to happy hour. You can chat him up.”
“I might,” she said coquettishly. Then her voice dropped to a whisper. “Except I don’t mind telling you there are some very strange people here. People with very odd views. Weird religious people. What do you call them? Sects.”
“Yes, sects. They’ve railroaded me into a cold bath tomorrow morning. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. They just forced me into it.”
“A cold bath?” I said. “Really? That sounds extremely unpleasant.”
To say nothing of extremely unlikely.
“I don’t know what it’s all about either. I’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.”
“Well, I don’t really like the sound of that. I’ll call you tomorrow and find out what the story is.”
“There are some very peculiar types,” she said again. More ominously this time. “With very strange ideas.”
“Well,” I said, “it’s a Catholic place. That’s why we thought you’d like it. I don’t know about this sect business. It’s Catholic. Like you.”
(Nana became Catholic very late in life, in her seventies.)
“I don’t know about that,” she sniffed. “But I can tell you there are some very strange people here.”
“Nana,” I said, “the weirdos will always follow you in. They’re everywhere. You just can’t escape them. I think the best you can do if there’s someone you don’t like is try and stay out of their way.”
“I’m not afraid of anyone,” she said. “I’ll tell them to bugger off. I don’t mind telling them what I think.”
“No, I know. You know how to despatch them.”
“Well, I do.”
“Have you been getting into the activities?”
“No. What activities?”
“Well, there’s an activities roster. They gave me a copy so I could see what you were doing.”
“Yes. Don’t you have one?”
“No. I’ve got a very nice bedspread.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” I said. “I noticed the bedspread too.”
“Have you seen it?”
“Yes,” I said. “I saw it when I was there. The patchwork one or the gold and cream one?”
“The patchwork,” she said. “It’s really very nice. And you’ve seen my bag?”
Have I ever. She won’t release her grip on that bag for anything, not even cake. The bag rolls with.
“Yes, Nana. It’s a very nice bag.”
“I can take that bag anywhere.”
We went on like this for a little while longer. Nana can and does talk about bags and brooches for hours. The same bag, the one brooch. Round and round we go. But that was yesterday, so I’m going to have to call and find out about this cold bath – I wonder if she’ll even know she said it?
I called her just now and said, “So what happened with the cold bath?”
“What cold bath?”
“You told me when I called last time someone was making you have a cold bath. It was all a bit strange and we couldn’t work out what was going on.”
“Well,” she said, “I didn’t have one at any rate.”
Okay. Glad we got that one worked out. But she sounded a bit uptight just now.
I said, “Nana, you sound a bit agitated. Is everything all right?”
“I was eating a lolly just now, but I’ve finished it.”
“Oh,” I said. “I might’ve known food was involved.”
And we had a laugh and she seemed to calm down, but then she said, “I feel like I haven’t seen anyone I love.”
“Oh Nana,” I cried, “I was there last week.”
“Yes, well,” she said, “that was last week.”
“And Kate has been twice this week.”
“That’s true,” she conceded. “Kate’s been very good.”
“It’s hard because I’m so far away.”
“Where are you?”
It made me feel like a dog. And really, really sad. But Kate and I had a good long chat yesterday about the “sect,” because the last time Nana was outright paranoid and delusional, she was in hospital, and developed a urinary tract infection that made her really wig out. I think I’ve posted about this: she developed an entire conspiracy theory about the nursing staff and was genuinely terrified. She was so afraid for her life she escaped the hospital in the dead of night, barefoot and in her hospital gown, and was eventually rescued by a kindly cabbie who saw her attempting to scale a perimeter fence. I mean, incredible. Anyway, I raised this with Kate yesterday and when she went in today, she started to talk to the nurse about the last time Nana was far, far out to lunch, and the nurse finished the sentence for her: “…and it was a urinary tract infection.” So they’re on it.