Neither the grey sky nor the steady rain could dampen Rene’s thoughts any more than they already were. The train would be leaving soon. Coming home wasn’t what she expected. Nothing remained of what once had been. She knew things would have changed but she wasn’t ready for what she found. Dementia comes on slowly; but for Rene and her mom, it had been a lifetime.
I wish I could tell you that I had known Rene and her family for a long time, but I cannot. We met on the long train ride home after a trip. We shared a compartment, just the two of us. Rene needed to talk. I was willing to listen. By the end of the journey, I knew all about her childhood, her brothers and sisters, her drunken father, and her dementia laden mom.
We shared space for a time…and time forever. Rene and I never kept in touch, perhaps she was embarrassed for exposing so much of herself to a stranger; or maybe I was needed only for that moment in her life. I’ll never know nor does it matter. I will always recall the telling and the feelings it evoked within me, especially now, on my journey home.
Taking Auntie Tims on her yearly trip to the Gold Coast was a right-of-passage in the family. Auntie Tims hardly left her home to go to the store but when the glorious May weekend arrived, she was always primped and packed and waiting with her purse on the front porch for her ride.