My mom was about to leave the room when she stood up and touched my grand mother’s little, elderly fragile hand of wounds and life full of memories. She felt my grand mother was awake, she was back from her nightmares and demons disguised in what we call Alzheimer, in a way to make it sound less emotionally painful. My grand mother held my mom’s hand saying in a voice that concealed suffering and loneliness “please hug me, I want to feel how it is to be touched by another human being”. Mother burst into tears and hugged her mother without letting go. It was late at night but she stayed by her side, listened to her imaginary stories from another world, one that was eating her brain to the core of her soul. It was 2 am when my mother fell asleep next to the woman who once represented everything I am now. I was raised by her and her second husband. A handsome, tall man with blue eyes, clear voice and Cretan origin. I was having dinner when my father called me to tell me about this and how he missed his mother. I guess it is only when you are an “adult” that you realise your parents’ mortality and the undeniable truth that they are humans with weakness and insecurities like you. They are no longer the super heroes of your childhood. It is only then when you get to become their friend and see their life from another perspective. We become equals in a uncanny sameness despite our differences and our uniqueness. I am 33 and I can now see I live the life I was thinking of when I was 6. A life full of music, books, art and solitude. My grand mother’s disturbing loneliness made me see how the first woman I admired and loved the most as a child, is experiencing something common yet different in actual substance with me. I choose who to share my world with, whereas she is engaged to a life of silence and absence. Some weeks ago, we played a little game and at same point, without even realising, I was describing Nassia being 50 and 60. I described exactly what I was afraid of being yesterday, but what i was dreaming of when I was dressed in a child’s body and had only dreams in my memories. A new self that can justify this 6 year old girl’s dreams. Standing alone, among others.
“And he looked at me then, and with real kindness on his face, and I see now that he recognised what I did not: that in spite of my plenitude, I was lonely. Lonely was the first flavour I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” Elisabeth Strout, My name is Lucy Barton.