Saracen household. Grandma is watching television while Matt's at the kitchen table doing homework. Grandma calls to Matt, asking him where her slippers are. They're on her feet, and Matt chuckles and tells her as much. But she starts getting more desperate: "I need my slippers, Matthew." She needs them, she needs them now. Matt tells her they're on her feet. She screams: "WHERE ARE MY SLIPPERS???" and Matt gets up and goes to her, telling her once again that they're on her feet. But she keeps shouting, and then she starts to cry about needing her slippers, and she's rocking and desperate and pleading until Matt whisks them off her feet and puts them in her lap: "Here they are. Is that what you need?" She calms down and whispers thank you. Matt stares into the middle distance.
Oh, this is heartbreaking. One of the very first things to fill my soul about this show was when, in the first episode, the camera panned down to Grandma Saracen's slippered foot tapping the linoleum floor. It was like nothing I'd seen on television -- a real house, a real grandmother, real slippers, you know? What was so wonderful was how seriously the show takes THINGS -- not only in an art-directed way, a way to convey realism (though that is important also), but in the way that the show demonstrates how people live in worlds defined by certain things (the Taylors' house, the linoleum floor in the Saracen's, the duct-taped TV at the Riggins'), and how people relate to one another through things. And, so the thing about Alzheimer's, in my own experience, is that one of the final gestures of resistance people make is to insist on the importance of THINGS. They need to know where their purse is, they need to have the right pair of slippers, they go over and over with you the recipe that they have for quick clam chowder. Because they can feel themselves slipping away, and the only way anyone can figure to tether themselves is not to other people, necessarily, but to the THINGS that kept them in the world the whole time anyway. And so, this is why this scene truly makes me sad. It is telling us something not only about how terrible it is to have someone close to you slide into that ether, but it is telling us something even larger than that, about how we all stay connected in the first place.