I was visiting Mom and waiting out in the hallway as they finished dressing her.
One of the residents, who I thought of as the cat lady because she was always clutching a bedraggled plush cat, wheeled herself over to me. Normally she wanted me to admire her cat, but this time she handed me a piece of paper. I scanned it. It appeared to be from the memory care facility files. It had personal information on it, such as her name, social security number and so forth.
“How old am I?” she asked
“Well, let’s see,” I said. I found the date of birth on the paper-1934- and deducted it from 2019. I double-checked the math in my head to make sure it was correct before I answered her.
“You are 85 years old!” I said cheerfully. “You’ll be 86 in a few weeks! I bet they will give you a birthday party. That’ll be fun, won’t it?”
I was hoping to make her smile, but instead her eyes filled with tears and she hung her head.
“I thought I was 75 years old,” she said. "I don't know what happened.”
I felt as guilty as though I had stolen ten years of her life and didn't know how to comfort her. Sadly, the only consolation I could feel was that she would forget this whole conversation in a few minutes.
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