Now, while I will make the disclaimer that this is NOT a final version of this scene, nor is it complete yet (I still have a bunch more editing to do on it), I still thought I'd share this with everyone as I included this seemingly unrelated scene in my novel "The White Mountains" as sort of a nod, and a tribute, to those who have dementia, as well as those who are tasked with caring for them. Please enjoy this tribute, and also please share your thoughts and comments about this scene, and the terrible disease that it speaks about.
Aria sat quietly on the porch of the Emmet homestead and looked out across the valley as thick, dark clouds began to gather above them. Lightning soon flickered across the sky, lighting up the trees around her with an eerie, flickering blue glow. Thunder rumbled through the valley, setting the floor of the porch, and her body as well, vibrating from the sound. Rain soon began to fall and gently coat the land in a warm, moist layer of water. Next to her on the porch lay Yurg as he quietly and curiously observed the storm. Only his ears moved back and forth as he listened to the comforting sounds of nature all around him. Aria smiled at this. In some ways she saw Yurg as nothing more than a big kitty cat, and sometimes as a fearless, mighty protector. Even so, she loved the big cat, and all of the little personality quirks that came with him. After some time, she reached over to Yurg and began to gently pet him, which he quickly found to be surprisingly enjoyable.
"Do you think the boys are still out in this?" she asked as thunder continued to rumble.
"I pray that they are not. It is most discomforting getting wet," he replied.
"You never seemed to mind going for a swim."
"Swimming is different from rain. One is for enjoyment or necessity, and the other is because you were foolish enough not to seek proper shelter in time."
Aria smiled and gently scratched Yurg behind the ears, causing him to smile and purr as he pushed his head deeper into her hand in an effort to get a more thorough scratching. Aria then looked over at Emmet's mom who sat quietly in her rocking chair as always, and continued to engross herself in her knitting. In fact, she hadn't stopped knitting since they'd come there. Or, at least not that Aria could remember.
"Ms. Brownstone? Are you warm enough over there?" asked Aria.
But the old woman neither looked up, nor said anything, as she appeared completely focused on her knitting. Realizing that the air was becoming somewhat cold and damp, Yurg got up and slipped inside, returning with Emmet's wife a few moments later. Aria then helped Emily bring her mother-in-law into the house where she could stay warm by the living room fire. As they did, Yurg stood by the front door and held it open so they could more easily get inside. The odd part, at least from what Aria could tell, was that Ms. Brownstone never stopped knitting the whole time she was being moved. She just continued her work as though oblivious to everything and everyone around her. She then watched as Emily wrapped a blanket around her mother-in-law's shoulders.
"Does she always do that?" asked Aria.
"She almost never stops knitting from the time she wakes up until she falls asleep. We even feed her and help her bath while she's doing that," said Emily.
"Why does she do that?"
"She has dementia. So the doctor thinks she constantly knits like that because it's pretty much the only thing she remembers how to do anymore."
"Does she ever make anything useful?"
"Surprisingly enough, yes. She still produces some pretty amazing things. She's knitted hats, sweaters, hand towels, an apron, and quite a few other things for us. We in turn then trade those items with our neighbors for other things we need."
"And she doesn't mind?"
Emily thought about this for several moments.
"I don't think she does. In fact, I almost think she's doing this to help us out, and to make herself feel useful again, given that her mind is slowly shutting down and becoming more and more useless every day. So we just humor her and let her do her thing."
Aria felt sad at this.
"I pray that never happens to me," she said.
"I think all of us would wish that. None of us want to get sick and become a burden to our loved ones. But that's just part of being human, I guess."
Aria frowned sadly as she thought about this.
"I know, but it's so sad to watch."
Yurg studied Ms. Brownstone for several moments, and then flicked his tail in an expression of contentment and respect.
"Perhaps it is a sad and unfortunate that such a thing should happen. However, at the same time, I see a heart that still wishes to help others even though it is trapped within a mind, and a body, that no longer works properly. Thus we should be honored by her sacrifice, putting others before herself, even if she does not have to," he said proudly.
Emily looked at her mother-in-law and thought about this briefly before smiling.
"I think you're right. We should be thankful for all she's done, even though she's slowly slipping away from us," she replied.
Another brilliant stroke of lightning flashed through the window and lit up the living room like a flickering flashbulb before a crack of thunder set the walls and the room vibrating with its intensity. This slightly startled Aria. It even set Emily and Yurg on edge. But it didn't bother Ms. Brownstone. She just kept knitting and knitting and knitting, still completely oblivious to the world around her as though she were on a mission and time was running out. Upon seeing this, Yurg's ears folded down as an expression of sadness grew across his face. Aria too was growing sad watching Ms. Brownstone as she mindlessly continued to knit, despite the intensity of the storm outside.
"Aria, dear, would you like to help me fix dinner? I know it's raining, but I'm sure it won't be long before the boys will be back to the house looking for something to eat," said Emily.
"I would love to!" she said happily.
The two women then made their way out into the kitchen as Yurg continued to sit on the floor in front of Ms. Brownstone and quietly study her. But the elderly women didn't raise her head, nor take her eyes off her work, no matter what was happening around her. Eventually Yurg lay down at her feet and looked up at her sadly as she kept knitting, as though acting as a lone, vigilante sentry who was willingly standing guard over a long, colorful, beautiful life that was ever so slowly fading away. And as he did this for her, a small, almost imperceptible smile crept across Ms. Brownstone's face.