Corresponding with the Dead
I got wind today that my mom wrote a note to a favorite author out of Idaho state. Someone she edited for in the past. They formed a friendship over the years and eventually the author, Tom, and his partner stopped in and visited mom and dad on a westward travel from Idaho. I’ve heard lots of lovely things about Tom, his work and his sweetheart for many years.
Tom died suddenly, devastatingly in 2009. Mom spoke eloquently of the loss.
Today mom wrote him an email. She was responding to him as though he had just written her asking her to go over a piece of writting she has edited 17 years ago. In the moment she wrote to him, she forgot he died. This is the devistation of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s. Her email bounced back from the university in Idaho because Tom’s address has long been closed down.
Mom is going though a protracted paper gathering exercise for me regarding taxes. She and paper are wary enemies. No doubt amongst the deep piles of paper she’s now combing through, she found something Tom sent her years ago, and that’s what prompted her note to him.
It goes to show how very ‘in the moment’ she is. Were I to ask her, “Mom, when did Tom die?” She’d likely get the date wrong but she’d take a stab at it because WITH context she knows and remembers he’s gone. In face of a paper storm, she focuses as best she can yet can get, literally, hopelessly distracted by something she’s unearthed at the bottom of a pile.