The last words that my Grandma said to me were during a visit to her care home, when I kissed her on the cheek during a moment of relative lucidity...
"Oh, that was a nice one", she said, with a smile in her voice.
She may have recognised me, she probably couldn't make the connection, but details aren't really the important thing with dementia - it isn't so much who you are, its how you are.
I wish I'd seen her more during her final months. But seeing my dad beaming with love and joy during that rare afternoon of wakefulness was a wonderful, lucky thing.
Some weeks later I visited Grandma again, knowing that this would probably be the last time that I would see her. Just over a week ago.
My last words to my Grandma, as she lay there apparently unaware, were simple.
It's difficult knowing what to say when the life of a loved one is slipping away, whether you think they can hear you or not. The only time I wish I believed in heaven is when I'm struggling for words, to say that I'll see them there. But sleep - peace, rest, respite - is the only thing that seems appropriate.
It was a real relief writing it, however - expressing some proper pure emotion. There's stuff bottled up that can never be vented round here. Sometimes you need the release of sharing.
(By the way, I tried to pop round your virtual-place the other day, first chance I'd had in absolutely ages to do some blog-reading, and then life got in the way. Make sure the kettle's on the boil for next time...)
I was reading Alan Bennett's 'Untold Stories' recently. He writes about his own mother afflicted with dementia and living in a care home. He'd sit there for hours holding her hand with her oblivious to him but with the occasional flickers of memory and understanding that you mention. He also talks of trying to make eye contact with her before he left each time - trying to make some connection and to let her know that he'd been there.
And I might so easily not have had my chance to say goodbye. As has happened with previous family bereavements I think that my family try to protect me, with the very best intentions of course, and its more by chance that I am around when a visit is being made.