Once, toward the end of her life, when she was not in good health, I woke my mother up from a nap, and, unusually for her, she snapped fully awake immediately. Over the next several minutes, she talked at length about the strict Catholic schools she had attended as a girl, remembering how mean the nuns had been and how afraid she had been of them. Her memories were vivid, and I was surprised that she had never shared them with me before.
The reason she hadn’t shared them with me, of course, is because none of it had ever happened. She was raised in a Methodist family in a company town in the Texas Panhandle and had never set foot in a Catholic school a day in her life — she probably would have had to drive two hours just to find one. I’d be surprised if she’d even known any Catholics back then. Her mind had, for whatever reason, played a trick on her. She didn’t suffer from dementia in any obvious way, and she never had another episode like that, as far as I am aware, for the rest of her life. When we get old, we break down, and strange things sometimes happen.
A thing about my mother, though: She did not possess a single nuclear weapon.