by Angel Royal

She doesn’t believe me when I tell her his name was John Wyskup.

She remembers he died in their bed,

but KNOWS that wasn’t his last name–

Even though she was married to him for 40+ years

and Wyskup was also her name.


Today, she remembers I was married to Brian. 

But yesterday, she thought he was my brother.

And the day before that, he was a handsome man she wanted to dance with.

And a few months ago, he was her cousin.

I wonder if he will be her grandson tomorrow?


When she sleeps she forgets.


I’ve always heard babies and puppies grow in their sleep.

I wonder if that changes as they age?

Does our mind shrink when we get to a certain number?

And if so, why is that number not the same for everyone?


What causes her to forget today yet remember tomorrow?

Why can she say she loves me some nights when I put her to bed,

But others, she stares blankly and thanks me in a distant voice?

Like I’m a stranger invading her space.


How does she not remember that she is in her own home?

The one John Wyskup built for her over 70 years ago?

The one with the stones on the outside that he placed by hand?

The one with her bedroom down the hall from where her little girls slept in their twin beds?

The one she fought so hard to stay in and not leave for a nursing home.


When she sleeps she forgets. 


She’s resting in her chair right now.

She’s not smiling in her sleep,

But she’s not frowning either.

Will she wake up happy?

Or confused?

Or mad that she took a nap?

Will she remember that it’s Thursday?

And that I live here with her?


How does she remember she loves Dr. Pepper and bacon

But forgets she likes Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup?

How can she remember my daughter’s name,

But not know if her cat is a girl or a boy?


If I woke her up earlier in the morning, would she recognize her room?

Would she know I’m family and not just a caregiver?

Should I have her sleep less?

Would that help her remember more?

Would she recognize herself in pictures

and not think it was her mama?


When she sleeps she forgets.

Angel Royal is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.  She recently moved to Oklahoma to allow her 102 year-old grandmother to live her last days on the family farm. She lives with her husband of 21 years, her 2 daughters, age 19 and 17, and of course, Granny.  She spends most of her time caring for Granny, trying to keep her chickens, dogs and cat fed, and trying to convince her husband to let her have goats. 


Cover photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash