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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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My Grandmother
Drawing of a trike
Farmor, Marion, Minnie, my grandmother.

I visited you today in your hospital bed.

Well, I tried you visit you, you were peacefully asleep when I arrived, and I didn't have the heart to wake you, any more than one would wake a sleeping infant.

You looked so wan and pale, there in your bed. I almost didn't recognise you as you slept. You're usually so feisty and alert, even if time has ravaged your memory and some of your senses. I think it's also that you’re not able to get your hair into its usual style, the way it has looked since forever, that I didn't recognise you.

I wanted to introduce you to my delightful partner Deb, who I brought along. As a surprise perhaps, even though I know you’d probably forget we'd ever been there or even who she was. I almost wish I could have introduced you to her ten years ago, before your world became not much more than your house. And now not much more than your hospital bed. I doubt they'll let you go home again, when you are falling over and not able to get up again unassisted. I hate the idea of you being alone and helpless.

You lay there peacefully, and so I just held your hand briefly. You don't look like someone who has lived 97 years already.

I hate hospitals. When I am a patient I always check myself out as early as I can. And you have been there for at least two weeks already.

I'm told you're not eating much and saying you are simply very tired. This reminds me far too much of my mother's father's last few days and weeks. When he ate almost nothing at all and then faded away.

In about six days I'm flying out of the country for more than two months. I worry a great deal that something will happen to you whilst I'm away. I know there are dozens of other family members to be by your side, but still I worry that whilst I travel the world you may leave it.

So as I held your hand I quietly said good bye to you, just to myself, just in case.

I will always remember you as you were, gregarious matriarch of a vast family.

I will try hard to see you again the night before I leave.