Sky was home after about ten minutes instead of the usual 45 minutes that it takes to walk to the Co-op, grocery shop, and walk home. He was headed out to buy supplies for our recently inaugurated “Burger Night” when we have dinner with Sayer and Emma and other friends who come by. We buy the food, and Sayer does the cooking. It’s always yummy, and something to look forward to. But, no more shopping for Sky.
“Is that someone I should meet?"
Sky was coming in the front door, while Emma was coming in the porch door. He beckoned me over, and said the above while pointing at Emma. Emma, Sayer, and I were startled, but I calmly replied, “That’s Emma.” We all wonder when it will happen again.
For almost four years, we have been living here on Hyde Street. We — Sayer, Emma, Sky and me — bought the house, renovated it, and have been happily calling this place “home.” We have a great backyard loaded with garden beds and fruit bushes. We live within walking distance of downtown. We have fine neighbors, by and large, and, except for our recent break-in, it’s been a peaceful place to live. Sky doesn’t remember that it’s called Hyde Street anymore, but he’s come up with the next best.
“We need to make plans. Where are we going to sleep tonight?"
Not only does Sky not remember the name of our street anymore, he no longer knows this is our home. Every morning and every evening, he wants to know where we are going to sleep. Despite me telling him this is our home, and showing him our bed with the quilts I made for us, he repeats the question multiple times a day. At other times, he thinks we’re just starting the renovations or are building another house on top of this one, or maybe another one in the backyard. We’ve been having this conversation every day, multiple times a day, for the past two weeks.
“You’ve just heard some very important information. Let’s take a few moments right now to consider this material, and then we’ll open it up for questions.”
I usually have a book that I’m reading out loud to Sky as he can’t read the printed word anymore, and relies on audio books. When I find something interesting that I think he’ll also enjoy, I plan on spending some time every day reading to him. So, the other day I started reading On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder (excellent book!), and when I finished the first chapter, Sky said the above to some mysterious class across the room. Not only did he say this, he said it in a very professorial voice, a voice I have never heard come out of his mouth in all these 35 years we’ve been together. I imagine he was channeling one of his Amherst professors.
“That’s Marianne. She had a sewing business.”
As the definition of “short term memory loss” now includes almost everything going back four years, Sky’s long term memory is excellent. He lived on a commune for 15 years in the 1970s and 80s, and one of his co-communards has been posting photos on Facebook of the good old days of the back-to-the-land hippies. The poster will ask “Does anyone know who these people are?” and Sky will always have an answer. Not only will he know their name, but he’ll also be able to tell you something about them, how long they stayed, how they contributed, etc.
The brain is a mysterious thing.