One of the most colorful characters at the nursing home is a lady I'll call the Storyteller. She has a loud voice and speaks in a sing-song style that is grating to here. She dominates any room where she is present.
What's more, she tells the same stories, over and over. Once she starts with, "I had four brothers," we can repeat the rest of the story with her, word for word. I have to believe most of her stories are true, because the details remain consistent.
It comes as no surprise that she is not the most welcome table mate. I consider a meal spent listening to her my good deed for the day. She welcomes anyone who actually appears to care for her. She has led a difficult life and her mental problems keep her from realizing the care her family lavishes on her, making her lonely and unhappy. I sympathize.
A few months ago, she received a doll. She brought the doll with her everywhere. She laughed at the man who asked why she didn't feed her baby. Her granddaughter gave her an outfit so the doll could change clothes. Our storyteller slept with the doll.
One day, when she woke up, someone had stolen in during the night, stolen the doll and left her with her two-year-old daughter. Her mother-in-law had taken custody of her baby and the Storyteller just got her back. She showed off her baby to everyone, every bit as proud as a new mother.
I tried to point out it was still a doll. Where was the belly button? Pointless question, of course.
At lunch today she was discussing problems with another resident, our Dancer. She wanted to give the baby a bath and she was begging her husband to bring her a bottle.
The overnight decline into clear delusion has saddened me. Having crossed that line, I doubt she will return. Instead, she will continue to decline further and further into a world where past and present are intertwined.
With the Lord's strength, I hope I hope I can continue to be a friend, whatever reality the Storyteller finds herself living in.