"Who are you?" he asks. "Where's your husband?"
He isn't asking where Beve is, mind you. He doesn't connect Beve with me now. At least not when Beve's not in the house.
"What am I doing here?" He scrunches his mouth a moment. "I think we'll go on into town and back home now."
It's going to be that kind of day.
I pull out pictures of his childhood home. Start there.
He smiles when he sees them. He knows that place. Tell him the old stories he's told me along the years of his mother's garden, his dad delivering mail. Ice-skating, walking into town to buy a chicken and see a movie with that live chicken in his over-alls.
I move on to pictures of himself in college and tell him more stories: of mailing laundry home to his mother; in the army (riding elephants in Burma, creating a basketball tournament right in the middle of a war); at his wedding (his bride made her own dress, her old Norwegian uncle married them).
His forehead wrinkles. "You remember memories," he says.
"Yes," I tell him. "You know why I know your stories? Because I'm married to your son."
I show him pictures of Beve as a child, and then of our wedding.
Pictures of our family when our children were small. Him holding our children, him sitting with me.
"Well, holy mackerel!" he says.
Grounding him, I think. That's what I'm doing. Grounding him in this moment so that his agitation ceases. So that he stays in his chair (if he falls, there's NO way I could help him get up). Bring him back to this moment. I don't know where his memory fails. I don't know how close to the present the gap begins, but it doesn't seem to matter. It calms him just to know that I know him, that I remember him.
When I started this post I thought I didn't have anything beyond that to say about my life right now. When everything I do is wrapped up in keeping someone fed and clothes and grounded in the present, it's a challenge to find space (even in my head) to think about what is deeper and beyond. The things I tell him, the conversation (if you can call it such) is like the beads on a rosary or prayer necklace : they go round and round and round. But like the beads on such a necklace, there is a holy purpose to those who employ them with heart and intention to honestly serve God.
AND beyond that, the truth is this: what matters most isn't that I am actively remembering God in my daily activities, He is remembering me.
Grounding Grampie in this day when his eyes are swimming and his mind fluttering with confusion: this is holy work. I believe--no, I know--God is remembering me (and the Beve, of course) in it. Daily. Hourly. Each minute.