The Garden of Eva
Eva Kataja lived on the corner of my street in the mountains outside of LA. Eva’s garden was a small jungle, full of plants and vines, tall trees, bushes, hidden statues and beautiful flowers. Eva was diagnosed with dementia about three years ago. She grew up in New York and went to Harvard. She never married or had children. She feels she did well in life. Eva held a private practice for decades and her research on alternative counseling treatments had yielded positive results. She bought a house and held parties to which many people attended. She was involved in political and activist groups of all sorts and she loved to play the guitar.
When I visited Eva I felt like I entered a warped reality, where time seemed to slow down. She spent a lot of her time filling out sweepstake forms to win millions of dollars. Some days, Eva forgot how to use a can opener or spell a word or what she was about to say. She would get frustrated. She suffered.
About a year ago, her conservator decided it was time to move her to assisted living. This devastated Eva. It took a long time for her to accept that she wasn’t coming back home. She has since moved to another facility and her days slowly go by.
I didn’t know Eva before so I have no point of reference on how she used to be. What remains is her strong personality, her clever humor and her stubbornness. I witness her fade away and stay trapped in a foggy alternate universe. Eva still recognizes me when I come to visit. This makes us both happy because we can still connect even though our conversations now have fewer words.
This is a story in progress.