Meems was mostly alert on this particular day. I asked her questions I knew that she could answer.
"How are you feeling today?"
"Good. I always feel good."
"Did you have a fun activity this afternoon?"
"We played Bingo"
"Did you go to Fun and Fitness this morning?"
"Yes. I always go to Fun and Fitness."
Usually, during these days of awareness, she will begin her litany of stories. The list is growing ever shorter.
"Did I tell you about the time I fell asleep and spilled coffee in my lap?"
"Yes, Mom! Oh my goodness! Falling asleep at the breakfast table is hazardous!"
She chuckles and smiles. On good days, she chuckles and smiles. On hazy days she simply murmurs "yes."
On this particular day, she asked me whether or not she voted in the election. First, I needed clarification. When it comes to 90-year-olds with dementia, clarification is recommended. Remember back to when your child asked, "Where do babies come from?" He or she may not be looking for the answer you were dreading giving. Why put it all out there when a simple "a mommy's belly" will suffice? Same difference. So, clarify I did.
"The one where we pick the president."
I hemmed and hawed around. Last fall, I tried to keep quiet about the upcoming election. I wasn't sure that she had the mental competence to make an informed decision. Also, if I had arranged for her to be transported in the wheelchair accessible van to a polling place, it might have ended up being a day that she couldn't wake up. On those days, she struggles to lift her heavy eyelids to acknowledge your presence before her. Answering simple questions is difficult when your eyes keep rolling up under your eyelids in search of the delicious dream that was interrupted.
"Well, Mom, I wasn't sure that you would know exactly who you should vote for..."
Think about it. Does hauling a 91-year-old with dementia to the grocery store and parking her in front of a voter booth constitute voter fraud? I suppose that one of the volunteers would have read the ballot to her and operated the machine for her. When asked who she supported for president, she would most likely ask, "What are my choices?" or randomly say "I fell asleep and spilled coffee in my lap" or, gesturing to me reply, "Ask her. She's my daughter. She takes care of me now."
Continuing..."Do you remember who was running for president?"
"No. I don't remember. But, I do remember that I always vote Republican."
"Well, Mom, we'll be voting for president four years from now when you're 95. I'll make sure that you get to go vote Republican if that's what you want to do."
"Good. I've never missed a presidential election until this year."
Boom. Daughter Guilt.
She can't remember what she had for lunch and sometimes, she thinks that her granddaughter, Kelly, is her niece. But, she will never forget her civic duty. Twenty-Twenty, Meems is ready for you!