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  • Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States, but not in Argentina. My mom has dementia.

    The person that I visit and that I kiss and caress and hug, the person whose hand I hold, the person who fears my departure but does not seem to notice when I go, that person who inhabits the body of who was once my mom -- that person is not my mom.

    After four months of seeing her deteriorate, I know that I have already lost my mom. I never did have a great relationship with her, the truth be told. But I knew all her ins and outs, I knew how she would behave, and I knew she would always be happy to see me. I knew what to expect. Now , she is an inhabited woman, a soul floating in this world with no place to go, no place to be, no place to find herself.

    "Who am I?”, she said to me on my last visit. “I don’t recognize my skin, as if I was wearing someone else’s body, who am I”, looking vaguely into my eyes.

    I thought: I don’t know who that being is. But I still love the lovely green eyes, her beautiful hair, her frail hands, and the way she says my name.

    And tomorrow, I will bring her favorite lentil stew and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

    Photo of mommy and I on the beach, in 1962, she, wearing lipstick.

    Mañana es el día de la Madre en los Estados Unidos, pero no en la Argentina. Mi mamá tiene demencia senil. La persona que visito y besuqueo y acaricio y abrazo, la persona a quién le agarro la mano, la persona que teme que me vaya pero no se dá ni cuenta que me voy, la persona que habita el cuerpo de la que una vez fue mi mamá -- esa persona no es mi mamá.

    Después de cuatro meses de observar su deterioro, sé que ya la he perdido a mami. La verdad es que nunca me habia llevado tan bien con ella, pero la conocía bien, su comportamiento, su manera de ser, y sabía que siempre se alegraba al verme llegar. Sabía lo que esperar. Ahora, es una mujer habitada, un alma que flota en el mundo sin saber adónde ir, sin saber que ser, sin encontrar lugar para encontrarse.

    “¿quién soy?”, me dijo el otro día. “No reconozco mi propia piel, somo si tuviera puesto el cuerpo de otra persona. ¿quién soy?”, mirando vagamente a mis ojos.

    Pensé que yo no sé quién es ese ser. Pero todavía amo a esos ojos verdes, su hermoso pelo, sus manos débiles, y la manera que pronuncia my nombre.

    Y mañana, iré a verla con su favorito guiso de lentejas, y le desearé un Feliz Día de la Madre.

    Foto de mami y yo en la playa, en 1962, ella con lápiz de labio.
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