Tuesday, September 9, 2014
A few years ago I started working with people under conservatorship. These are usually elderly people who can no longer care for themselves, and so the court appoints a conservator who ensures that their needs are met. Every two years their conservatorship comes under review, and it was my job to read the notes of a court investigator and provide a recommendation for the judge on whether their conservatorship should continue.
I reviewed hundreds of these cases, but a handful of conservatees were especially memorable. In particular I remember a woman close to ninety years old who was alert and communicative, but she had forgotten almost everything about her life and the world around her. I was totally shocked when the court investigator asked if the conservatee was married (she was), and she responded, “I don’t know. Maybe. I think I might be.” She had forgotten who her husband was, if she had children, what her career had been, where she lived. Everything was gone. She knew her name, but the only details she remembered about her life were her birthday and the name of the small French village where she was born.
Do you ever worry that your birthday isn’t on the “right day”? No, you don’t, because only a crazy person would do that. But I thought about our baby’s birthday almost every day for the past year, even before I was pregnant, because I wanted our baby’s birthday to be on a good day, the right day. I don’t even know what the “right day” means, but I wanted it still. I didn’t care if he came early or late or smack on his due date, but someday ninety years from now, that day may be the only thing he knows about himself. He might not remember who we are, or how much we love him; but he may remember his name, his birthday, and where he was born – and last week, that was something we gave him.