My mother makes endless lists: things to do, things to buy, appointments, birthday and Christmas gifts, letters sent, what she did today, what she will do tomorrow, vitamin pills for each day of the week. She is trying to remember who she is, though she does not know that.
At the psychiatrist's office, we haggle over terms: dementia, frontal, temporal, Alzheimer's. What is the difference, I ask. One is more about the loss of memory, one is more about the loss of judgement. She has both. The names do not matter.
Lists matter. Calendars matter. Calendars filled with little lists matter.
She is clinging to the lists, to the dates, to the notion that something she does matters. Lists matter.
I could list my emotions: pity, frustration, condescension, impatience, weariness, fear.
Charity should be on the list. I pretend it's on the list. Sometimes, for a moment, it is there.
My mother was 19 years old when I was born. Is this the future for me? Should I start now, this making of lists?
Today I thought: I hope when I am old and restless and unable to focus, that I will write: ideas, memories, novels, memoirs, essays, poems. I am afraid that I will write lists.