I’m in the kitchen of the house where I grew up (and where my dad still lives). The kitchen looks like in the old days and I’m in the front of the fridge with a thermometer in my hand trying to figure out where to put it: in the fridge or on top of it? There’s already one in the fridge so I decide on putting it on top of the fridge (which would have been impossible in real life as there was no space on top of the fridge) but before I get that far my dad enters the kitchen. He’s about to go to bed but just wants to tell me that if I plan on putting the thermometer in the street in front of the mailbox maybe it’s not such a good idea as it was very icy this morning, and three men already slipped and fell there. So I tell him not to worry I’ll put it on top of the fridge. Then he says he’ll go to bed and I say the same although I plan on going to the lounge room to watch TV. He goes to bed, I turn the lights in the hallway out and quietly walk to the lounge room and as I pass my parents’ bedroom I can hear my mum asking if I’m going to bed and my dad saying he doesn’t know and maybe I’ll go and watch TV. He knew. So I get to the lounge room, close the door, turn the lights on and discover that my mum is lying on one of the couches with a blanket over her. Hmm, how odd, I’ve just heard her in the bedroom. So I wonder whether she might be the ghost of my real mum. Not that the mum in the bedroom isn’t my real mum, but still, in a way she isn’t since she’s dementia stricken and much of her real self is gone. I’m thinking maybe the mum on the sofa is my real pre-dementia mum. So I call out to her but there’s no response. I touch her arm and finally she wakes up. I repeat “mum” but get no response. So I get an idea; what if I take her to the bedroom and she meets my dementia stricken mum. Maybe their shock of seeing the other version of themselves will somehow merge them and the result will be a non-dementia stricken mum. So I ask her to get up and we walk to the bedroom. But the lights are already on and my dad is changing the bed sheets. Maybe mum had an accident. So I realise the mum from the lounge room isn’t a ghost mum but just my ordinary dementia stricken mum. My mum begins to criticise my dad for changing the sheets again. He doesn’t complain, he was so good in those days although it was hard work living with an ill woman. I decide to go back to the lounge room and watch TV. The end, I wake up.
In real life my mum passed away three years ago. For five years we saw her drift into an awful state. My dad isn’t the big strong guy he was then either. He’s ill too now although it’s another nasty disease, the ugly C. Life’s a bitch and then you die. When I woke up my apartment was stuffy and too hot so I opened a window to get fresh air. The phone ran. “Oh bummer”, I thought, “Maybe it’s the people from the Job Centre”. It was my dad. “Hey, they’ve got cheap Ali coffee at Bilka’s!”