My aunt’s decline took place over the course of about six weeks. We went from her visiting on Sundays after church to pleading with me to stay at her house because she was afraid to be alone. I cannot pinpoint the catalyst for the downward spiral, but the day I admitted her for an emergency psychiatric evaluation for being non-responsive and nearly catatonic was one of the most sobering of my life. She bolted to my car in her hospital gown after being discharged, buckled her seatbelt and told me she could not live alone anymore.
Managing her care fell to me, as my sister and cousins left our hometown years ago and my aunt’s sisters (one of whom was my mother) have passed away. I reached out to my contacts in the long-term care sector and we got her into an independent living facility within a week.
Talking about this with others is not easy, but living it while also raising children presents its own challenges.
When Nonna’s memory fails her, she returns to familiar gestures. On a weekend afternoon in winter 2021, she offers me a piece of hard licorice...