Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pearls in unexpected places

It’s the pursuit of the day, looking for keys that aren’t there and are not needed.

It begins as a small speck of dust, a mild irritant that scratches away through the minutes that stretch into hours. It’s a familiar tale, which flickers between OCD, perseverance and Alzheimer’s. It does not respond to the usual remedies. Distraction is only a temporary lull in proceedings before she picks up where she left off, back on the hunt for the ever elusive keys.

We have many other keys available, which might work as a fob, but it’s a trick that’s unlikely to work, more likely to ignite anger, because she’s nobody’s fool. The keys belong to her home in England where she’s lived most of her adult life, the same keys to the same house, keys that are definitely stored in secure long term memory, not whispering in and out of the short term.

There is no respite or relief in sight as distress levels rise, and it’s not just me. I see her pause in the middle of her room deep in thought, furrowed brow and bitten nails. Her frustration is palpable. Power ‘off’ on the television – she means business. I try not to pry to closely, but it all jumps out at me: cat litter, pop-corn, shredded tissues, discarded clothes. It’s just like teenagers, I have to allow some slack, a trade off between independence and privacy, but I’m still tinkering with the balance.

It turns the day of rest into a race but the children chortle as they play, loudly. I complete another pointless circuit of ‘helping to find,’ before I step outside for a breather as I’m out of platitudes and placaters.

As I flop into a garden chair the air is filled with the noise of leaf blowers, the rhythmical rapping of the green woodpecker, the cawing of pet parrots from up the road and the pneumatic stapler of the house builder three doors down, when I hear the door behind me and the shuffled steps as Nonna arrives by my shoulder to hover. I try to relax my neck and arrange my face before she says it, because I know she surely will.

“So Maddy… you’re dah lucky one aren’t you!”
I exhale and turn because I really can do think when my head is on straight, “indeed I am.”
“Doh!” she puffs with annoyance as she cuffs my arm, “you’re no fun today.”
And there she is, right back where she should be, faculties in place, the right place.
“How do you mean?”
“You know I just do it to annoy you, don’t you?”
“Indeed… I certainly do.”