Molly was older by a generation, married with children, an author and an active writer. The couple frequently drove to my office - "just stopped by to chat", they would say.
Molly and I attended writing workshops together, and once, she invited me to a party held at the home of a local writing legend - a tall Victorian house expansively decorated for Christmas, even the scents announced the holiday. Bookshelves lined the dark wood walls and were filled with leather-bound tomes. The atmosphere was scholarly and quiet with occasional bursts of laughter, the striking of a match to light pipes - no cigarettes there - and men with corduroy jackets with, yes, leather patches on the elbows. People milled around visiting, not sitting and relaxing in the leather chairs which filled the rooms of the home. She openly and happily introduced me to her friends: published authors, photographers, the hostess - a well-known teacher. Molly shared with these "celebrities" my personal writing goals ... while I stood feeling inadequate yet pleased with her praise and confidence in me.
I once confided to her that I wanted to write a book about my musings and she encouraged me to set up my own publishing company, which I did and even had a graphic artist create a logo - free. The book completed and self-published led to a desire to write another one - a story from the diary of my grandmother living in the woods during a very difficult upper peninsula winter. Eager to share this second book with Molly, and, as it had been over a year since we had contact, I emailed her and Paul. He answered that she was in a nursing facility.
I was let into her unit by her nurse - what? why would the place be locked up, I ruminated as she led me to my friend's room where she cheerfully announced my presence. Molly was sitting in a chair looking out the window and slowly turned around and stood up. Her face was blank as she seemed to be reaching into her memories for who I was - then it seemed to click and she lit up. "Connie, it is so good of you to visit," she excitedly exclaimed as we hugged. I experienced denial, big time, but had to finally realize that my good and dear friend had dementia. She talked, disjointedly, with an occasional recognition of who I was. I held out my second book for her and she stood and held me telling me how proud she was of me. Then faded into jumbled recollections.
I felt shock and the betrayal of dementia - the memory robber. Our old familiar and warm relationship ended that day, or perhaps changed as I will continue visiting and holding her hand, talking to her of old times and friends. I'll always hold Molly closely in my heart and embellish my memories of our times together. I cherish and hold onto her words about how proud she was of me when I gave her my book. I find comfort that perhaps it touched in her a hidden memory of who I was, who she was, and who we were together. You would have liked her.