Ghost in the House.

26 Nov 2016

Today we are publishing the fourth blog in a series of five written by Mary:

There's a ghost in my house. It is me.

Oh, I don't quite flit through the passages, trailing grey draperies, clanking chains and making "woo woo" sounds, but I am a ghost all the same.

My children enter the sitting room after school to find me sleeping on the sofa when they expect me to be cooking their tea. If they need a drink in the night they might find me, heavy eyed but sleepless, wandering aimlessly. They pile into the kitchen at top speed to find me staring in blank incomprehension at the stove.

My eldest daughter takes the spatula gently from my hand. "Go and lie down, Mummy," she says. "I'll cook dinner."

"I should - " I begin and she takes my elbow and steers me back to the sofa. "You are ill," she says, in that firm voice that will earn her a good management salary in a few years' time. "You need to rest."

She is right. I know she is right. There are holes in my brain. Sometimes I cannot even remember how to open a tin of soup and heat it on the stove. I – who love to cook! I am not safe in the kitchen.

Maybe this is what Alzheimer's feels like.

I drift from room to room; purposeless and forgetting what I came for. Yesterday I went back into the dining room/library five times to get the same cookery book. I kept forgetting. And the cookery book was to tell me how to cook something I have cooked a hundred times before. But I had forgotten how.

When I catch sight of myself in a mirror it is a surprise, because I feel invisible and without substance. I feel that I am not really here.

I check my diary constantly – and still forget appointments twenty minutes after reminding myself of them.

So far, everyone has been understanding.

Most of the time I feel I have no substance, then abruptly, the focus changes. I am real and the world wavers like a mirage. I cannot rely on anything being material. I am not drunk, but everything shifts in and out of clarity as if I had drunk half a bottle of vodka.

My friend smiles at me and suddenly I can see the skull beneath her skin, beneath her immaculate makeup.

Yes – this is a scary place to be: some ghastly joke of a carnival fun-house ride.

So I cling to routine as if to the rail guiding me through a hall of distorting mirrors.

And the mirrors show a pale and shaking wraith.

It's the only true thing they show.


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