I open my eyes and look around, I don’t know where I am. Am I alone? Are there others somewhere nearby? I know I heard a woman talking just now, I’m sure that’s what woke me up.
I lay in the bed for a few minutes, looking around in confusion, listening for someone, anyone else, because I don’t want to be alone. Being alone makes me afraid. As I lay here, trying my best to figure things out, I begin to wonder how I even got here, wherever here is. Did somebody bring me, or did I walk here by myself?
Suddenly it comes to me, I’m in the Dante Hotel, but why? Why am I not at home? I decide to go ahead and get out of bed, determined to get answers.
As I move the cover off of me and begin to sit up, I realize that I hurt everywhere, especially my legs and hands. I look down at my hands and they are aged and gnarled with arthritis, I can’t make a fist with either one of them. My legs are skinny, mostly skin covering bone. Oh Lord, what has happened to me? Then I remember that I’m 89, or am I 85? Wait, no I’m 89, I think.
As I try to stand up I find it very difficult to do, my legs won’t hold me up, they shake and tremble every time I try. As I reach for the arm of the wheelchair sitting there I wonder who’s it is and why it’s there. It must be for me, but I don’t remember getting one or why I would need it. Oh well, I’m going to use it because I don’t think I can walk downstairs. Wait a minute. Downstairs? How in the world am I going to get downstairs in a wheelchair?
After a few attempts I manage to make it to the wheelchair. It takes me a while because I can’t stand up straight and I’m afraid that I’m going to fall. What would happen to me if I fell? Who would be here to help me? So I take my time, scooting one foot at a time, holding on to the arm of the wheelchair. Finally I make it but I have to rest for a minute and catch my breath. As I sit here I look around and again wonder where I am. Oh yeah, the Dante Hotel.
I try to back up but the wheelchair won’t move. Is someone behind me, holding it so it won’t move? I look around but don’t see anyone. Then I vaguely recall that I need to unlock the wheels, so I feel and look around and finally pull on the handles on either side and now I can move.
As I make my way out of this room in to another, it looks like the lobby, I again wonder how I got here and why I’m here. There has to be someone else here, I can’t be alone. I roll past another room and look in. There is someone laying in the bed but I don’t want to wake them up so I roll through the rooms that I can get to, looking for someone else to tell me where I am.
It’s now been about an hour, I’ve been going back and forth trying to find someone. I realize I want some coffee, but where is it? I need help so I go back to that room and wake Pete up. “Pete … Pete!” “PETE!?!?” He rolls over and answers me but he calls me mommy. Why would he do that? He want’s to know what’s wrong, am I ok? I tell him we need to go so get up and get ready. He, and I suddenly realize it’s Timmy, not Pete, wants to know where we’re going?
What a strange question for him to ask. Doesn’t he realize that we need to get home? Ben and those kids are up there and Ben is sick in the bed. I need to get to them so those kids won’t be alone.
“We need to get home,” I tell him, wondering again why he doesn’t know where we are. “I have to get back up there to Ben and them kids!”
“We ARE home mommy,” he says. “We’re in your house on Pidgeon Hill.” What? That can’t be! We’re in the Dante hotel, for some reason, and he doesn’t know that. Why doesn’t he know where we are? I look at him in total confusion as he gets dressed and ask him, “Is there anyone else here with us? Are we the only ones here?”
He looks at me with what can only be sympathy or is it aggravation? I can’t tell. I hope he isn’t mad at me for waking him up. I want some coffee and I want to go home.
“Connor is the only other person here with us mom”, he says slowly, as if I don’t understand him. “The only people that are here is you, me and Connor, and he’s still asleep.” Connor? If Connor is here, where is his little brother and sister? They must be the kids that are with Ben in the old Gullett house.
Tim gets behind me and pushes me to what looks like the kitchen and parks me in front of the table. As he goes to the counter and pours me a cup of coffee I look around and once again wonder why we are here and not at home like we should be. Why would I leave home and why is Timmy with me? I ask him again, “Why are we at the hotel?”
As he sits my coffee on the table and pours creamer into it, he says again, “Mommy, we’re not in a hotel honey, we’re at home. We’re in your house, we live here.” He opens the curtains so I can see outside. But that can’t be true! I remember walking down here.
Another question comes to my mind, “How much do we have to pay to stay here?” He looks at me for a minute and then answers, “We don’t have to pay anything, you own this house, it’s yours, in your name.”
I’m getting frustrated now because I KNOW we’re not at home, I KNOW we’re in a hotel for some reason, I KNOW that Ben and those kids are in the old Gullett house alone and I need to get to them. I KNOW that I need to get home.
I KNOW that I’m not going crazy, I’ve got a good mind and he’s confused for some reason. I decide not to say anything else for a while, he will eventually come to his senses and he will take me home.
He gets his coffee and goes to sit down at a desk and smoke a cigarette. I turn around and look at him, feeling somewhat confused and ask him, “Timmy, where are we?”
And so begins another day in our lives. I can not, with certainty, portray exactly what goes through mommy’s mind, but I believe that what I have written must come pretty close. I have watched, for 2 years, her decline into this world that she now lives in, in her mind. Over those two years and with a great amount of patience, I have begun to piece together her thoughts.
This is just a very small portion of our day, somewhere in the area of two hours in the morning. Some days she lives in her own world all day, some days it’s intermittent, but never -the-less, the mommy that raised me, loved me, took care of me is no longer here. Instead, there is this confused, scared and often lonely in her own mind lady that I don’t know.
To me, she will always and forever be my mommy. Who I am to her at any given time remains to be seen.
Thanks for readin’.