as the fog began to descend on my grandmother, she began to hoard kleenex and african violets. she bought boxes in every shape, color, pattern and size. and the african violets bloomed their little hearts out under special lamps in her basement apartment. and i don't think i really noticed that her mind was slipping, even though i should have been old enough to realize. she still made tea when i came over and 15 kinds of christmas cookies during december and a sunday roast that was so tender it fell apart and didn't need to be cut with a knife. she was still my grandma and i don't recall any of the adults around me ever talking about her plight in my presence. maybe it was just seen as a normal part of the aging process in those days. i do remember her in the nursing home towards the end. how childlike she seemed, how innocent somehow. but how hard it was to visit her and know she didn't recognize me. and what a relief it was in a sense when her time finally came, and she was released from the bondage of the fog. from a life that was no longer a life.
months later, i had a vivid dream of her. we had tea together, using her chinese tea set, that we had used so many times for tea parties in my childhood - dragons on the small cups and saucers, ombre grey to black color on the pot. we laughed and played tea party, just as we always had. and she told me, looking straight into my eyes, that she was ok. and i always felt it as the goodbye i didn't have the chance to have with her fogged-in self. it felt so vivid and real and vital and warm. it really was goodbye and i really think that she was there in my dream - the real, whole essence of her.
i think i need an african violet.
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a tragic ending to a unusual and artistic life.