Coming Home to Deirdre


In the middle of September this year, we went down to the Irish/Scottish Festival to see the Highland Games in Green Lane, Pa, and slept overnight there
in tents. It was nice, when we came home from the festival at night, to find Deirdre sleeping in bed, as usual. It gave a nice comforting feeling of being home and everything being as it should be.

It wasn’t quite so nice when she woke up in the middle of the night, as she often does. She tossed and turned, whimpering, “Uh! Uh! Uh!” over and over. Sometimes she cries during the night, but a lot of the time she just does this. It gets to be like Chinese torture–each “Uh!” is like another drop of water, driving you crazy. Titi had told me she didn’t have her flashlight with her, so she couldn’t shine it on her to wake her up as usual. And there was no sound from her now, so I guessed it was up to me to see what was wrong with Deirdre. I tried as hard as I could to pull myself out of my sleepiness and make myself talk. “What’s the matter? What’s the matter, Deirdre?”

No answer. She never answers when we ask, which is the frustrating thing. But then I heard her whispering something; “silly goose” was the only word I could
catch. “Silly goose! Whisper, whisper, whisper, silly goose!” I couldn’t
tell what she was saying, but the fact that she was actually saying something
was a good sign; it meant she was actually awake for me to be able to make her to be quiet. “Want a blanket on?” I asked her. “Yeah!” she whispered, sounding
satsified, and went back to sleep. The next day, Titi told me what she’d been
saying. She’d been saying, “Silly goose! You’re supposed to be sleeping in a
tent!”–because we slept in tents while we were at the Highland Games, as
Deirdre knew. As soon as she realized we were back, she was able to go back to sleep.

Titi and I–in fact, all of us–don’t go places very often, and even
more rarely are away overnight, and when we are, Deirdre notices. She may just go on doing all the things she normally does and not think about it, until you ask her, for example, “Where’s Titi?” Then she stops and thinks about it, and repeats, “Where’s Titi?” But even if she doesn’t notice at any other time, she’ll definitely notice at the supper table. (Even when she was a lot younger, she used to yell for people to come to the supper table.) She’ll keep asking, “Where’s so-and-so? Where’s so-and-so?” Then even once you tell her, she’ll keep asking it every now and again to hear the answer. She always wants to know where people are; at night she’ll sometimes whisper to Titi, “Titi! Titi! Titi!” until Titi finally answers her. Then Deirdre asks, “Where’s Cadie?”–even though I’m sleeping inthe bed right across from her as usual. It seems very strange to her to have someone gone when she’s so used to them always being there.

The next morning Titi talked to Deirdre about us going away. “Did you
miss me?” Titi asked her. “Yeah,” Deirdre said. “Did you miss me so much you cried and said, ‘Boo-hoo, I miss Titi?’” Titi continued. This is the way a
lot of the question-and-answer games we have go. If we ask Deirdre a question
and she says “Yeah,” then we ask it again in greater degrees of extremity.

“Yeah,” Deirdre said again, even though we both knew she didn’t. “Did
you ask where we were at the supper table?” Titi asked.

“Yeah.

“Who sat at my spot at the table?” Titi asked.

Deirdre gave her a big chipmunk-faced grin and did her favorite trick of relay-the-question. “Who sat at your spot at table?” she asked Titi right back, instead of answering the question.

“I don’t know!” Titi exclaimed. “Who sat at my spot at the table, Deirdre?”

“Who sat at your spot at table, Titi?”

Deirdre thinks she’s very clever when she does this, so this would have gone on for a while, except that Titi broke out of the circle by saying, “Did…Temmy sit at my spot?”

“Nope-nope-nopey!” Deirdre hooted. “Guess again!”

So Titi guessed again and again, going through all of the names. Each time Deirdre would cry “Guess again!” with immense pleasure. Finally Titi cried, “Well, who did sit at my spot?” Deirdre threw herself backwards on the bed and kicked up her legs. “Me!” she cried. “I already guessed that!” Titi said. It didn’t matter; Deirdre didn’t really know who sat at her spot (in fact, no one sat at her spot), but it was fun to make it up when she was the center of attention.

I chimed in on the conversation, too. I asked her if she had fun on the treasure hunt that Titi and I made for the little kids to do while we were gone. She said “Yeah,” in that same distant tone, but when I asked her what she got, she promptly replied, “Um, photos!” I had stuck a couple of printed-out photos in with the stickers at the last minute. Deirdre loves photos; that’s treasure enough for her! But considering she didn’t mention the stickers, I wondered if she ever found them. When I looked inside the pouch where I’d hidden the stickers, sure enough, they were still there. “See, Deirdre? It’s a bag of stickers for you!” I said, holding it up. “O-oh!”she cried. I showed her what each of them were, which she was very interested in. Every time I showed her one, she’d say “Oh!” If I said, “See, that’s a doggy,” she’d say happily, “Oh, it’s a wittle doggy!”, as if it was the greatest thing in the world. Then if she found one she recognized, she’d hold it up and give her interpretation of what it was: “Dis such-and-such, Cadie!” Each one was fascinating to her. Once she got downstairs, she promptly started peeling them all off and plastering them all over a piece of paper. She
knows what stickers are supposed to be used for, and she wasted no time in
doing it!