Some one I love is living with Alzheimer’s

I got to spend time with my mamala for her birthday. She is wonderful and she is perfect. And she is worried and fearful that something may actually be wrong, or maybe people just think something is wrong and she is perfectly fine. Either way, she is bothered.

I wasn’t able to make her laugh as much this visit. Making her laugh has been my focus for the past few years, because it is such good medicine. We laughed this visit, but less. If I’m wry or sarcastic, it’s totally lost on her now. I have to be very gentle with teasing or she might think I’m being mean.

And then there was the coffee. She and my dad make half-caf, so when I visit, I always have to bring my own high-powered coffee. For the past couple of years, she had taken to grabbing my coffee, cup after cup every morning, and “doctoring it up” the way she likes: lots of artificial sweetener and a generous swish of milk to lighten it up.  I’d sometimes have to make coffee 4 times just to get to enjoy a cup of straight black before she got to it and thought it was hers. It drove me crazy.

But this visit, she never reached for my cup. She didn’t even try. She waited for me to bring hers to her, and then we both had our coffee, the way we each liked it.

You may not think that is a big deal, but I see her changing, backing away, noticing less each time. She is getting smaller, not just physically, but in the way she occupies the atmosphere. I am mourning the parts of her I will never see again. But wait…for a flash, for a split second, there it is again…but then gone.

It really is the long goodbye.

mom and dog 6.5.16 small

She asked me to teach her to use the TV control. We worked and worked on it. She used to be the techie in the family, she was the one who would hook up the TV to the VCR to the DVD player and whatever else or call Dave for computer help and she’d figure it out. It’s gone now. After 15 minutes, she still could not retain that the on-off button was top, right.

I used to be able to do this. What in the world is wrong with me? Why can’t I do this anymore? It’s like I am going backwards or something,” she kept saying to me.

It’s the same question she asked about the washer and dryer and her CD player and the telephone. She doesn’t even ask about the gas stove. The microwave is starting to become mysterious, now. Sometimes you put your coffee in and it comes out hot and other times, it doesn’t. Why is that, she is wondering?

I told her gently, very gently. Yes. These medicines are because you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Yes, your memory problems are part of Alzheimer’s. Do you know very much about that?

It perturbed her. “You mean that is what they are saying I have? That is why they keep giving me these pills?!” as if a diagnosis is an accusation of some sort. She doesn’t like it. But I know she won’t recall it anyway. Tomorrow, she’ll wonder why she “keeps going backwards,” remembering just enough to know she is losing something…

But I told her that she is doing fine, just fine. And then I promised her I would remember for her, so she shouldn’t worry. And she cried. She just fell into my arms and wept.

And I assured her that love isn’t a memory that can be forgotten, that it will always stay up to date, so we would just keep on loving each other. Every little thing will be alright, mamala….
And I just held her for a while.

mom and bogey 6.16 small

—————–xoxoxo——————

You can learn more about Alzheimer’s at www.alz.org. There are articles about the signs and symptoms and great resources for caretakers. They remind us that everyone with a brain is at risk for this. And I am passionate about raising awareness because this woman, my sweet mom, is the last person on earth who would deserve to be fighting this battle, but Alzheimer’s doesn’t care. So I hope we can find a cure so my own children and theirs are not left watching the pieces of the people they love fall away, and are not left holding the bag as this insidious disease ravages our nation and the world.

Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. – alz.org/facts

#endalz #thelonggoodbye #alzheimers #igopurplefor my mamala…

8 thoughts on “Some one I love is living with Alzheimer’s

  1. You are doing everything right too, Jeanie. All of it. You are so right about Love always being up to date; Love is not a memory that can be forgotten. Oh, that is so pretty. Your mamala is a treasure to you, and you are the same to her. This is uncharted territory for both of you, and painful for everyone. Yet… Love. And you are doing it well – beautifully, even. You’re doing just fine. I love you.

  2. Your wisdom in this amazes me. Your gentleness testifies. It says Here this is how you do this difficult task. You do it with love. Because love conquers all. Even this insidious disease and it’s relative dementia, which my mom has. Thank you

  3. Mom has wonderful memories of your recent visit. She told us about 3 different places you and Dave took her. She talked about the tall building/tower, the train, and I can’t remember the 3rd one…but she did :)

    1. I love it, Dawn. Because one day on the phone we talked and she told me about it, too, but said she wished I could have been there. But I treasure the moments we get to share the same memories!

  4. Oh, Jeanie, I only wish I had “just held” my mom more! We went through all you described, you are doing things the right way!! Keep on building memories for you, & by writing them they will be there for you, & us later!! Thank you!! I cried, tears of a sad, motherless daughter, selfish woman that misses her mother terribly, even though she was “gone” so many years before she actually passed! Your message was eloquently put!

  5. I read blog posts every day but have never felt such a need to comment on one. I found your blog looking for tips on tutus. And then I saw this. We just lost my dad in April and it still seems unreal. This post is the first thing that’s brought me back since he died.. I pray you and your family find peace in this journey<3

  6. Oh, Jeanie, I’m so sorry. I just happened upon this post today. I was so afraid that either or both of my parents who get Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t, so I can’t relate to this, but my heart goes out to you. I am also afraid that this will happen to me. Have you read up on Alzheimer’s? Reading other people’s experiences might help you deal with this (I don’t know. I’m just guessing).

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