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Fiona Dority

Humans of Dementia Winner

Sometimes I think of the person she is. I think of how she used to say ‘person’ in such a way, she’d purse her lips and the word would fall out smaller than when I said it, sitting by her knee.

Such a person. My grandmother is such a person. Julia Child cooked a meal for her. She hung out with Toni Morrison. She ate at Alice’s Restaurant.

.

If dreams were lightning

And thunder were desire

This old house would’ve

Burned down

A long time ago

.

Gee whiz. The old ferry boat used to come across the bay and drop me off into her hugs and her sea-beaten cottage. That boat stopped crossing the water a while ago, but my grandma still said the words in response to my stories.

She doesn’t say gee whiz much anymore, and her cottage is gone. When I tell her stories she listens, but she doesn’t say much. Instead, she nods, and I keep talking.

In my mom’s old photos of her when she was young my grandmother sits smiling in the background. Her home videos show a young, ‘70s age Grandma sitting in a hammock. Holding my mother, her eyes are bright and she is happy.

Watching my polyester-clad grandmother on the screen as she watches drag racing in the woods makes me think what other hidden pictures of her I can find.

.

Make me

An angel

That flies from Montgomery

Make me

A poster

Of an old rodeo

.

My grandmother wrote. Her books sit on our shelf, proud in their jackets. I write too, and I can feel her when I do. My words are typed into a computer, it’s screen makes my face glow. Hers were typed into a typewriter, the clacking keys echoing the speed of her thoughts.

I write for my grandmother, I put down my ideas because she did. Our stories are different, but they come from the same well inside us.

.

But that was a long time

And no matter how I tried

The years just flowed by

Like a

broken

down

dam

.

Sometimes I wish I was younger when my grandmother talked more. There are so many things I want to say. I still see her face, shining through the phone, but I don’t hear her voice, not like I used to.

.

How the hell can a person

Go to work

In the morning

Then come home

In the evening

And have nothing to say?

.

When I was little my grandmother brought us cake from the airport. Every time she’s come to Michigan since then I’ve thought of that cake. She came for the Nutcracker every year to see us dance, each year getting harder for us to have her there.

My grandmother had a dog, a black and white Portuguese water dog. His name was Chester and my grandma loved him. He was always glued to her side, and wouldn’t let anyone besides her walk him. My grandma misses Chester, and for all his barking I do too.

.

To believe in this livin’

Is just a hard way to go

.

My grandmother had a cat, too. His name was Splat. In New York City it’s easy for a cat to fall off a windowsill, but Splat had great balance. I remember him leaping straight down the spiral staircase in her Greenwich Village apartment. Sometimes I wonder what he thought every summer when he left the city for the seaside.

.

Just give me one thing

That I can hold on to

To believe in this livin’

Is just a hard way to go