It seems every family has a story about how one of their parents came home to live with them in their old age. This is becoming more and more common in our society as the baby boomers grow into their older years and as healthcare costs and in-home nursing skyrockets in price. Not long ago, I read a very interesting short story by Priscilla Hodgkins titled; “Einstein Didn’t Dream of My Mother,” and I’d like to recommend this story to you because it is an insight into the reality of how the mind tends to slow as folks get older.
This story talks about a mother whose memories, wishes, and dreams often got mashed together in her mind. Sometimes what she says doesn’t make sense to anyone listening, but she’ll tell the stories over and over again. Her dreams are vivid and realistic, and she enjoys them as much as her wakeful state. She forgets things, and must be reminded the next day, and in this story the mother has several strokes, sometimes they come in clusters, and sometimes they come on one by one. This real-life story talks about ambulance rides and sheer terror of the family worried that their mother might have had her last stroke, that this might be the end.
Today of course scientists are doing their utmost with public funding of research dollars to solve some of these challenges of the mind in old age, but that won’t help people in the present, or people who have finally let go in the past. As one loses their mind, their memories become vaguer, more mixed up, and eventually they lose their ability to move their bodies, talk, swallow, and even eat. These are tough times to watch a loved one grow old and senile. Nevertheless, many of us will not be so sharp in the mind in those final days, days which may turn into weeks, months, years, or even a decade or more under the care and supervision of family.
For anyone going through this right now this is a great short story to read. It also might help people understand what they might be dealing with in the future when a parent comes back to live with them. The story was full of empathy, philosophy, and heartfelt emotion. It’s a great read, and although it is quite short, it certainly puts you there in that place and time, a more common occurrence in our society than ever before. Indeed I think you might enjoy very much reading it. Please consider all this.