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The Woman in the Fog by Julie Marquardt


The woman in the picture is walking away from me. Dressed in a hat and coat against the chill in the air, she walks in a light fog. Ivy covered trees surround her, but the path seems clear. Does she know where she is going, or is she just wandering aimlessly?

I think of my mother when I look at this woman. My mother has Alzheimer’s, and I often wonder if she knows where she is going or if she’s wandering aimlessly in this world. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Most of the time, she speaks gibberish, but is it gibberish to her? Does it sound the same in her brain, as it does coming out of her mouth? Does it make sense to her, and does she realize it doesn’t make sense to us? We answer her as if we understood what she was saying, but I often wonder if inside she’s wondering why I’m saying what I’m saying.

And then suddenly, the fog lifts. She will respond appropriately, and for just an instant, she says the right words in the right order, and it all makes sense. Just for an instant. And then it’s gone. Where did it go? Where has it been? Why can’t she do that all the time?

Does she still know she’s in a fog? I believe she did at one time, but I’m not sure any more. At times, she almost seems to know where she is and where she’s headed, but not the way to get there. So we take her where she needs to go and help her do what she needs to do.

I think she’s grateful to be with us. She’s in her home, around familiar things and people, and I truly believe some part of her does know that.

I can’t imagine walking in her shoes, down this path. She has a lot of courage to have chosen this way, and I ponder the lessons to be learned by her choice. I know she wanted to be taken care of, and she is being taken care of, but it reminds me of the old saying, be careful what you wish for.