I often wonder how the world seems to my “demented” mother. Is she happy or unhappy? What happens in her mind, which has no short term memory and has forgotten much but not everything? Her parents, both dead for 30 years, are often (but not always) alive for her. I’m 15 but mysteriously look 65. But when I started, not wholly accurately, to quote Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud she could finish it when I could not. Together we sing “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half-crazy all for the love of you,” and she knows more verses than me.
But today in reading The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death by John Gray I’ve come across the attractive idea that my mother has “ascended to a higher plane and been absorbed into the true Deity, which is impersonal.” The idea comes from David Hume:
“A variation on this theology occurs in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, when one of the interlocutors describes the view of ‘the most religious and devout of all the Pagan philosophers’, according to which worship of God ‘consists not in acts of veneration, reverence, gratitude or love; but in a certain mysterious self-annihilation or total extinction of all our faculties’.”
One of the reasons I’m so interested in my mother’s mental state is that I’m imagining myself in the same state. I’m slowly coming round to acceptance of dementia, although I had imagined that I would if I had the courage (and I probably wouldn’t) kill myself before I got there.