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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)

TITLE: Here then Gone
By Lucile McKenzie


For a while we could play the memory game together. I would search through my memories of our many good times together and ask my aunt, “Do you remember how your cow loved the lettuce in your garden, and always looked so irritated when we threw clods at her to chase her out? For a while she would say, ”yes.” We would laugh and it would seem that my aunt was still with me. For a while. But as the dementia progressed, although I searched diligently, there were fewer memories we could share, and the aunt I loved slowly became harder to find.

“Do you remember when we rented a boat and took turns rowing around Clear Lake?”


“Do you remember the day we drove up the pass to see the autumn leaves. They were so bright we felt almost blinded, and you said we should only look at black and white things for a while?”


Now, as I press the buzzer for entrance into the nursing home, I wonder, will I find her today? Sometimes I get a glimpse of the aunt I once knew, then her happy personality disappears again, like a mischievous child popping for a moment out from behind a chair, only to hide again. Now, she isn’t in her room so I search through the halls among the sad people whose personalities, like my aunt’s, played hide and seek for awhile, but now are gone forever.

I find her sitting on a padded bench watching walker-assisted people roam through the rooms. Her face lights up when she sees me. Ah, good, I thought, she’s here today. I sit down by her and we exchange greetings. Then she says, “You know, I had the best visit from your mother today.” I briefly close my eyes. My mother, her eldest sister, has been dead ten years. But, I smile, “That’s good.”

The memories that shaped her into the person she used to be have faded away. Her body is still here but the essence of her is not. Are those memories and the person that was my aunt still hidden somewhere deep inside, only to pop tantalizingly out, before hiding away again? I glean comfort from the assurance that God is in charge here, and that my aunt is a Christian.

One day I find the door to her room closed. I knock and a nurse sticks her head out and says, “Just a minute.”

The nurse comes out and says gently, “She just passed away.”

Tears come, then I think, no, for a long time now I’ve searched for the happy, fun-loving aunt I loved so much. She’s been hidden away, but now I know where she is. Someday, God will direct me through the vastness of heaven and I'll find her for eternity.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Murray08/15/08
What a tenderly written account of the last days of a beautiful and beloved lady, and of your own feelings during that time. Well done.
Marlene Austin08/15/08
Such a heart-breaking illness to go through with a loved one; but, such a joy knowing that loved one is whole with God. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)
Patty Wysong08/18/08
Bittersweet and filled with feeling.
Teresa Hollums08/26/08
I certainly identify with your story--only it was my precious mother. My mom had been without any memory at all until my son kidded her about coming to his wedding. She quickly replied, "Well, it better be soon!" Amazing!