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8 May, 2018

I had quite an extensive "home" experience over the weekend.  And only one day was at Atria.

On Thursday night, we reviewed a show called "Jack of Diamonds"

This was a very funny show which takes place in an upscale retirement community.  It was like walking into Atria.  There are five residents and a Nurse Ratchet-type caregiver, who runs the place like a prison and obviously hates where she has to work (that part isn't like Atria). 

The five have invested their life savings with a friend and hear, over the TV, that he has been arrested in a Ponzi scheme and that they have lost all of their money.  The plot involves trying to figure out how to stay where they are and, when the crook turns up, pretending to be catatonic, at the home, trying to decide how to kill him.  It was a so-so show, but we laughed a lot.

But what made it special for me was the residents who were so familiar from my years around Atria.  And I also got a brainstorm.  One of the characters suffers from narcolepsy and passes out periodically, for short or longer times.  It was exactly like what my mother has done.  She has not had a spell like that in a long time, but if she has one again, I will definitely suggest that possibility to the doctor.

The second play was Marjorie Prime, which takes place in 2050 when science has perfected the ability to make holograms which can hold someone's memory.

Marjorie is 85 and has dementia.  Janis Stevens, perhaps the best actress Sacramento has, has perfected the persona of an older woman who still has a thin grasp on her memories, but realizes they are slipping away. Her body language, the way she holds her hands, the way she speaks is spot on.  It was like talking with my mother.

The only "off" thing about it was that while Marjorie's demented moments were perfect, she also had moments of greater lucidity, when she could discuss some of her memories.  Presumably, as her dementia increases she will lose this ability.  If I try to remind my mother of events from her past, she is more likely to say "I know you're talking, but I can't understand a thing you're saying."

However, in the play, the holograms are programmed to hold all of the memories of the one who is slipping away and has the patience to tell her the same stories over and over again, hopefully bringing back some of the life that she no longer remembers.

And then I went to Atria and found all the people in the cast of Jack of Diamonds.  My mother and I sat in the common room with Tony (I still don't know if he speaks or not) and watched people bowling.  My mother got a headache the instant someone invited her to join the game. 

She left me and went out into the patio.  I followed and sat with her in the shade at the other end.  Then she got up and walked back to where we had started.  I was about a minute behind her and when I opened the door to go into the common room, she was so surprised to see me...and where had I been?  She was so glad to see me again.

If I could get a Mildred Prime, I might actually consider it.



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