"Walk me to the gate."

Her voice was insistent, confused. She didn't use my name... did she even know it then? Did she even know her own?

She took my arm and hobbled next to me, down the path outside, lighting a cigarette... funny how she can't remember who she is but she still remembers how to smoke.

We walked to the gate for the twentieth time, and she exclaimed over the flower bed like she was seeing it for the first time. And in a way she was. In a few minutes she wouldn't remember it, and she'd make the same request, again, and again. She drove me nuts, I was so frustrated with her. What happened to the woman who had traveled the world, from China to Egypt, full of stories and memories and life and knowledge.

What happened to my grandmother?

That was the last time I saw her, that Christmas in Florida, the last time we could all be together. That was years ago now.

The next year, she couldn't be in her home. They took her to live in a sterilized home of death, where the aged suffering from Alzheimer's were locked away where they could be kept from both sight and mind, where they couldn't cause the rest of us any more pain.

We never went to visit her. Her caretakers told us it wouldn't do any good... she wouldn't know who we were, and she'd only be scared. They told us she'd degenerated, and sent reports on her condition every few months. My mom and I read them, we kept them from my father... he didn't need to know, didn't need to think of his dear mother like this.

They told us she'd become an animal, that she wandered between rooms not knowing which was hers, that she was destructive and angry... and then, that she was calm, calmer than she'd ever been before...

And now, she's buried under her own bed of flowers. My father called this afternoon, telling me her body had died.

But her soul died years ago, with her memories.

I miss her...