Today my mom and I took Oma on a car ride through the hills north of town, down this mad dirt road. It was nice - Oma even enjoyed it. She was in a good mood today, but very confused. At one point she didn't know the answer to a question about her past, and so told my mom, 'You'll have to ask your father' - Opa, who has been dead some thirty-odd years now. And she didn't know who I was.
Not so much that she didn't know who I was - like she didn't know who my cousins from Washington were when they visited, but she's pretty much never known who any one of her five grandsons might be - but she knew that I was someone completely different. She thought I was ...this person who really needs a codename, so I'll call her Dr Backpacker, because she's one of the main backpacking people and she hiked the John Muir Trail with us and so forth, and she's a doctor, and I can't think of a clever codename. Anyway. Yeah, my mom and Dr Backpacker have been friends since they were both in elementary school. And Oma has now several times been quite convinced that I am Dr Backpacker.
Earlier this week, I don't remember when, either we were talking about doctors or waiting in Dr Neurologist's office or something, and Oma said something about how I was a doctor too. And we thought she was joking, so we asked her what kind of doctor, a doctor of what, and she said of surgery. Specifically, the kind of surgery that Dr Backpacker does. And still we thought she was joking, because that's what Oma does, she jokes.
But then today the conversation went something like this:
Oma: I need to go home, but all these doctors say I can't go home.
Me: Well, the doctors are right.
Oma: Doctors are not always right!
Me: Well, Doctor Neurologist was wrong that once, but -
Oma: Doctor who was wrong about what?
Me: Doctor Neurologist. She said you had 'retropulsion,' but you don't have retropulsion.
Oma: And now Doctor Backpacker is saying that Doctor Neurologist is crazy!
Me: Doctor Backpacker? You haven't seen Doctor Backpacker....
Oma: You are not Doctor Backpacker?
Me: No.... (suddenly realising that Oma does not know who I am, and remembering the 'joke' of earlier this week)
Oma: Who are you, then?
Me: I'm your favorite grandkid! Do you know who I am now?
Oma: My favorite grandkid... I cannot say who my favorite grandkid is; the others would get angry!
Me: Naah, everyone knows I'm your favorite! What's my name?
Oma: I don't know!
And then later:
Oma: How is your brother?
Me: He's doing well. He's in high school now. He seems to be liking it, but it's a lot of work. He's doing two sports, plus all that high school homework, so he's very busy, but he seems to like it.
Oma: Isn't he in Phoenix?
Dr Backpacker has a brother who lives in Phoenix.
I'm very impressed with how much Oma knows about Dr Backpacker - what kind of doctor she is, that her brother lives in Phoenix, et cetera et cetera. Especially since Oma knew Dr Backpacker best thirty-odd years ago, and has probably only seen her a few times since. Whereas I've been Oma's favorite grandkid for the past eighteen years, and visited her more days than not ever since she moved to Rivendell. And I call her Oma, which ought to be a big clue that I'm one of her grandkids.
But it's just the disease. I know I'm still Oma's favorite grandkid, even if she is sometimes convinced that I'm a forty-six-year-old doctor who looks nothing like me except for being sort of butch-ish. And Dr Backpacker is such a good person, probably one of the better people to be mistaken for by a demented grandmother. Still I hope Oma will start to know who I am again.