portrait of an old woman

Wendy’s house is filled with the faces she’s painted over the years, portraits of old men, young girls, mothers and their babies, soldiers and their rifles, businessmen, socialites, farmers, priests – a fascinating array of characters from Wendy’s long life and travels. The hard fact is that now, the artist barely recognises herself.
Who sent you?’
‘The doctor.’
‘Why on earth would they do that?’
‘I think they want to make sure you’re okay.’
‘Of course I’m okay. I’ve never heard such nonsense.’
‘Is there anything I can help you with this morning?’
‘Such as?’
‘Well I don’t know. What do you feel like? Would you like to have a wash and get dressed?’
Wendy’s still in her dressing gown. It’s been a while since she was in anything else.
She glances at her friend Pamela, sitting next to her on the sofa.
‘What is this all about?’ she says. ‘Who is this man?’
‘It’s Jim. From the hospital. He’s come to help you with things.’
‘Help me with things? How ridiculous! I don’t need help.’
The trouble is, she really does. And if the jury’s still out on the cause of her acute onset dementia, there’s no doubt about the effect. Everyone’s rallying to the cause – her family, neighbours, health and social services. People have been remarkably kind, sitting with her, holding keys, doing what they can to keep Wendy going. But her confusion is reaching a point now where the basics of living are becoming impossible to maintain, and there are growing concerns for her safety. And Wendy sits in the middle of it all, a bewildered figure in a red silk, poppy-patterned dressing gown, one hand folded in the other, looking around with preternaturally blue eyes.
Who sent you?’ she says.

2 thoughts on “portrait of an old woman

  1. Looking for positives (which is difficult sometimes), at least it gives an opportunity for all these people to show how much they care for Wendy. And they obviously do. I just wish it didn’t upset Wendy so much to see all that worry & concern and wonder what it’s all about. (And then immediately forget the explanation once it’s given). Dementia is a cruel twist at the end of a life, no question.


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