i’ve often felt resentment towards my mum for asking me to look after my grandmother. it was such a loaded question - there was no way i could refuse without being considered heartless and yet, if i took on my duties without getting emotional, i was considered so anyway.
my older sister does not handle the idea of death very well and so, scared of having her memories of grandee replaced with ones of her from within the nursing home, she refused.
i was thirteen or fourteen when my grandee moved into my room. i slept in the loungeroom for about six months before she was moved to a home. my mum, being a nurse, knew the type of care that was offered at this place (and all others like it) and so she would go in there every night to make sure she was looked after, fed and put to bed properly. when she worked nights on friday and some saturdays, it was my job. i would feed her dinner, brush her teeth, take her to the toilet however many times, make sure she took her dreaded medication, and i would put her to bed and listen to her call out as i left.
her dementia often made her rude and so very unlike the grandee i used to have. it also made her think she needed to go to the toilet every five minutes and take sad trips down memory lane.
my sister was right. i can no longer remember the sound of her voice - only the unfamiliar raspy desperation i heard each week. i don’t remember her being anything other than the little woman who laid in that bed and begged me not to leave her in the dark even though she often couldn’t remember who i was.