(Dis)Appearance

My mother is an artist. She may no longer wield a paintbrush, but even through the haze of dementia, she still sees things through an artist’s eyes. The backyard tiger lilies in their marmalade-hued splendor. How the sun glitters on the cove. The texture of the acorn along the wooded path where we walk. Her observation skills are finely honed in certain areas but frustratingly elusive in others.

In her narrow tunnel of Alzheimer’s World, things disappear. Memories. Objects. Motor skills. Words. Time. And, most maddeningly of all, herself.

Ever concerned with appearance, she tries to portray herself to the outside world in picture perfect form. “She’s so sharp,” a neighbor commented after a brief visit. Afterward, she fell apart, the exhaustion of denial overloading the tangled brain wires.

And as I watch her slip away, part of me disappears.

Sketch by my mother, c. 1975

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