A mother who sings…
She was a great cook; now she has hung up her apron.
She sewed and loved to make jam; now she has no use for either needle or cooking pot.
She used to sometimes feed a stray cat; now she spends her evening and sometimes whole nights outside, searching for it so it will come and sleep next to her.
Perhaps believing that she’ll be able to hold on to it, she re-invents the present , now that the past eludes her. But already this present begins to slip away and as present and future fade…it’s troubling… what remains? Now that the “now” hardly seems to exist any more. What will remain when the roots of identity disappear? What will remain of her – my mother – when she has even forgotten my name?
For a long time I thought that to forget was an advantage: forgetting words, gestures, other people, situations. Now that it’s a part of my memories which I am losing as my mother’s memory disappears (she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011) I value this capacity to remember, because it says who you are, in relation to yourself, to others and to the world.
I can’t just rage against the situation though; sometimes she seems profoundly happy to live in the present moment; she sings, smiling, the first phrases of Jeanne Moreau’s song, “My mind is giving way, I don’t remember too well anymore…”
… a man, her son, who dances.
Dancer, choreographer, I’ve always been fascinated by questions of identity and territory: they form the very heart of my work. Today I’m confronted by this illness, which takes up more and more space in my relationship with my mother. The only past which remains to her is distant, vague, and arrives in sometimes overwhelming fragments. The only future she can conceive of is counted in hours.
It fascinates me that all the omissions and absences and disappearances that the illness brings with it, incite the emergence of new phenomena…