Thursday, 30 January 2014

That special time

If you get dementia - and there's a big chance you will - WHEN do you think will be your special time?
When is the time in your life when a great proportion of your stories will be about?
You'll bore the people around you stupid with those same old same old tales of a day or a place, or a conversation that you had a long time ago.

Dementia sufferers all have them. Those favorite stories. The same words. The same gestures. They get to the end of one telling - maybe a minute or two - and then just pick up again with the same words. Another round of the same impressions.

Probably a happy time. Hopefully so. A time when you were praised or lucky or surprised.
And for some reason that will stick in your memory to be brought out at the slightest trigger.

Mention "Korean food" to Okaasan and she is sucked down the memory tunnel to a Korean restaurant in the department store complex of Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo. To a counter of many people eating food. It's noisy and everyone is eating. She has just finished shopping and is about to catch the train back to the suburbs.
 Strangely enough, a year or two ago, if you mentioned "New York" or "tour guide" she was straight to a time long ago when a JTB guide in New York agreed with her that "Korean food is the best in the world".
But now? "New York"/"guide"/"Korean food"/"the best in the world"? Nothing.

"Ah, really? There are Korean restaurants in New York? Yes, Korean food is delicious...."

Of course, for her generation wartime is a big memory. That is true of all people who have lived thru war. Many of Okaasan's stories are about Kawagoe berfore/during/after wartime - her father and his business; the lack of food; the famous temples and buildings; the GI Americans who couldn't fix their jeep; walking and carrying younger siblings along a road and so on.
Last night it was the amazing luck of Kawgaoe NOT to get bombed. Because the Americans knew it was a beautiful old place. Only one bomb was dropped on a neighbor's home. It was lucky.

I heard THAT story about 10 times last night over dinner.
It's ok, such is a carer's life. I listen to students who tell long tales about their health or car troubles. I'm a professional listener. Dinner with Okaasan is one more lesson-time at the day's end.

When Okaasan talks about her clothes - she always says that she bought them "just after I got married". I guess that was the time when she enjoyed buying adult clothes as a new wife in the 1950s. She bought clothes as a young mother or a middle aged woman in the 60s, 70s and 80s too - but for her clothes always date from "just after I got married".

Will this time in my life - living here in Japan with Dear Son and the skiing - will this be my special time in my memory? Will it be my single life as a young journalist in southern England in the 1980s? Will it be the backpacking days in Asia? Or school days?

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