I pick up the phone to call my Grandma, realizing that I haven’t spoken to her in almost two months now. As I call, I silently scold myself for not having thought to call earlier. At eight pm she is probably already fast asleep. The phone rings three times, and then she picks up.
– Hi Grandma!
– Hello my dear!
– Grandma, it’s me, Ashley, your granddaughter.
– How are you dear?
– I am good, thanks. Did I wake you up?
– Oh no, no you didn’t. Oh wait, yes, yes I was sleeping. But that’s okay I would much rather talk to you. How good it is to hear from you. Where are you?
– I am at home, in Vancouver.
– What are you doing today?
– I am just going to watch a movie, it’s called Food Inc. It’s a documentary about the food industry.
– Well you sure do like to challenge yourself, don’t you?
– Haha, it is supposed to be very interesting. I have to study for school this weekend so I am taking a break. I will be coming to see you on Tuesday for dinner.
– It will be so good to see you.
– Yes, I will see you on Tuesday and I will be coming with mom, your daughter. And Clarke, my brother, who is your grandson. So you will have your daughter and your two grandchildren visiting you on Tuesday.
– Oh that will sure be nice to have you all visit. I better get all spiffed up for you.
– No need to get spiffed up, we love you just the way you are.
– What are you doing today?
– I am going to watch a movie
– Oh, well I better not keep you or you are going to miss the start of your movie.
-Night Grandma, I love you. See you on Tuesday.
I am not sure she really knew who she was talking to the whole time, although she spoke to me longer than usual. She always just says, “well I better not keep you” and the conversation ends abruptly. She has no concept of time, how long we have been speaking, or what topics we have already discussed. I tried to explain that my mom is her daughter, but I know that will not help her realize who I am. When I see her she seems to know I am some sort of female relative – once she introduced me to someone as her niece. Of course, she has no idea what that word really means or what my name is.
The last time I went to visit her, she showed me a photo of her and my Grandpa on their wedding day. She asked me if she had shown me a photo of her husband before. I told her yes, that I had met him before, and showed her a photo of us at his 80th birthday, the last photo I have with him, taken just a few weeks before he passed away. The fact that I knew her husband seemed to make her happy.
My Grandma has fond memories of her life, what few memories she has left. She just can’t seem to place them into the context of today, nor can she place where tomorrow is in relation to today. Time is lost. Time is really only the relationship between two events, perhaps only a philosophical term. When that relationship ceases to exist in our minds, so does time. When the present is all you know, do you know who you yourself are?