By Tannis Kelm
New. With ignorance. Blissful. People like to say, “If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” Perhaps. But there is honesty in the mistakes and plenty to make, going another way doesn’t mean you won’t find different problems. If you never did it the first way you wouldn’t be able to inform people about it, though it’s not like that makes a difference in most cases. Just because you knew it was bad for you hasn’t stopped people from making the same mistakes others have made time and time again.
To be able to do differently is nothing I’ve ever wanted. To be young today must be horrible. No privacy and everyone’s opinion, like they know, everything meaning a little less as we become further desensitized from our reality. What I do think about is having those horrible things that happen day to day erased. (I knew that once but now I haven’t the fondest clue and I don’t want one.) Saying ”I knew” is to say you forgot and put it out of your mind until reminded and I’ve had just about enough of that for a lifetime. I like to remember, aside from those things that I would like to forget, and if I didn’t have to forget certain things just to get on with my day I wouldn’t try to forget anything.
My Gran had quite the run in with dementia, about 10 years. Even though she forgot a lot, she also forgot that she knew she was forgetting, and that’s when it got easier. You could tell she was frustrated until she forgot she knew. If these things she did forget weren’t important to her, I’m sure having dementia wouldn’t have bothered her at all. At least she didn’t know what was going on in the world; I know she wouldn’t have liked it. Someone who is brand new also feels this calm of not knowing, all they have is fresh experience, moment to moment, most of those formative years a blur or not there at all. It’s almost like my Gran shed herself, her mind, but her body just wouldn’t quit.
My Gran was new in a dying aching body. She used to tell me she wanted to die to which I’d reply we love her, though I understood exactly why that wasn’t quite enough. It must be hard to watch all your friends die around you. Why wasn’t she allowed to die when she was forced into personal care? Why wasn’t she allowed to start her new existence instead of being tied here to the one she was forgetting? Why couldn’t she die with her memories intact? Her memories were as much her as any physical representation. Some people commit suicide because they want to forget, but she felt the exact opposite. She had those things kept close, home, before she had to keep being reminded that her new home was personal care.
Seeing my Gran diminish over time was hard for the whole family, she was fiercely independent and a natural host. She wanted the best from you but wasn’t hard to please. It’s difficult to think of her in past tense but I think I still embody everything I learned from her. Until my mind starts to go, which happens to the women in my family, I will consciously make an effort where making an effort is due. I like to keep people in my life. I like to make things count and I want what I do to mean something to myself and to anyone who wants it to mean something to them. I guess I want to be someone you know, not someone you knew. I think making personal connections, and your consideration concerning them, is how that occurs.
I hope I’m allowed the right to die when I want to, given new legislation in regard to medical assistance in dying it looks as though I may be able to. After you’ve put in so much time here and tried your best, it should be a right. Or else I guess it would be a great time to try heroin.
Tannis Kelm is a singer/songwriter who performs under the name Hors. Find her on Facebook, Twitter , Sound Cloud, Tumblr, or her Gold Chair Sessions videos on YouTube. Tune in to CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. for her show, Listening Pleasures.