Peter points me to a chatty video by music duo Sylvan Esso. Early on Fish is mentioned (or at least that is what I heard, but actually, as Peter pointed out, it’s a mention of the band Phish, which is another path to explore). I almost only listen to Fish on early Marillion albums, his solo albums never really worked for me. YT tells me Fish released a new album this year, and as a first result the song Garden of Remembrance comes up. It is a beautiful song about dementia, and the ‘making of’ video is worthwile too.

Dementia is no stranger to my family, I’ve seen it both in my father’s and my mother’s family. Fish’ song evokes for me the slow growing absence of my grandfather. His phase of sudden bursts of anger, when his brain was already failing him but it seemed to him as if others conspired to loose items or deny the truth of his memories. The moment my grandmother rang up in tears she couldn’t handle it at home with him anymore. The much softer, kinder and tender phase after that. Him falling back into his native Frisian exclusively, so other residents in the care home couldn’t understand him. Some of them started calling him ‘the Frenchman’ because anything you don’t understand must be French, right? Beauty too. Singing children’s songs with him one afternoon. Visiting one time with my grandmother. He didn’t recognise her anymore, but during their conversations told her he liked her and if he hadn’t been married already would like to ask her out. He could still see what he saw in my grandmother as a young man way back in the late 1920’s.

Whe he passed away we were there with him, my grandmother sitting next to him. A while after his last breath my grandmother let go of his hand, grabbed her handbag very tightly, and walked upright out of the room. I’d never seen such a loneliness as had suddenly abruptly descended on her, even if it had been a slow gradual goodbye stretched over several years. Solid resolve she exuded strongly as well, to go on, to carry it, walking down the corridor, after some 65 years together. It’s been almost 30 years, that image of her in those moments is still with me.

Walking in a garden of remembrance this morning.

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