When he was reaching his last days,
my grandfather was at the point
where he couldn’t even remember who I was.
You would think this might have made me sad
but quite the contrary.

You see, he and I had some
uncomfortable history.

When I was a kid
everything between us was just hunky-dory
and we had quite a bit of that
grandfather grandson kind of fun,
so the going was always easy
and I always looked forward to seeing him.

Fast-forward fifteen years
and all he saw before him
was a young man with long hair
who was still acting
like an entitled child.

From then on nearly everything
he said to me was in a scornful tone.
One such occasion was when
he decided to probe me
about the handmade Peruvian
shoulder bag I was wearing;
you know, like, “Why are you
carrying a purse?” kind of thing.

Dementia was like an angel
who wiped the slate clean of all of that.

Also, it made our conversations much more memorable.

Where all the others would persist in their efforts
to remind him of the facts,
I would just roll with whatever his version of reality was.
Where others would say “Oh, really!” in that
condescending tone of a parent talking down to child,
I would make further inquiry
and marvel at his brain’s capacity
to effortlessly substitute
the gaps in his memory
with much more interesting
versions of events.

It was like having a lesson
on how our brains are hard-wired
to mythologise the self.

Was he speaking to me from a higher plain of being?

“I’m Les, by the way. What’s your name?”
“Nice meeting you, Graham.”
“Likewise, Les, and I would like to hear more
about the fire which caused
the ward to be evacuated this morning
as well as the over-arching conspiracy
to keep you locked up in this place
when there’s obviously nothing at all
wrong with you,
but I have to go now,
so maybe next time?”



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