What do you do when they don’t remember you anymore? How do you decide if you should visit them one final time? How do you make sure that they are comfortable, happy, and dignified?
Even If I Forget (2019-2020) tells the story of a grandmother, mother, and daughter who are dealing with the grandmother’s advanced stages of dementia. Just one short year after seeing her grandmother seemingly happy and healthy, the daughter is suddenly faced with the decision to see her one last time, knowing that the disease has almost certainly made them strangers to each other.
I hoped to encapsulate the real-life experiences of people who shared their stories with me while I was composing this piece. The grandmother pats on her leg; this tiny action speaks to the life she lived before dementia – even in the advanced stages, she still taps rhythms ingrained in her from years of playing the piano. The mother tries to connect with the grandmother, verbalizing a knitting pattern that they shared, hoping that the grandmother may respond to their familiar words.
While every bit of this work is inspired by and dedicated to my grandmother, Vivian “Paige” Everhart, who passed away with dementia in 2018, it is also for all of the people who have experienced the difficulty of losing someone to Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any number of terminal illnesses — especially those that seem to steal our loved ones before they are truly gone.