Mondays With Mother: An Alzheimer's Story

In 2002 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is a hard road, and we live it one day at a time. This is a chronicle of her disease and my Monday visits with her.

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Name: Anne Robertson
Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

December 27

It snowed again this Monday...more than last time, but again I went to The Birches for my regular day with Mother. But today was not going to be a regular day. Others were coming. My mother's father died, as I think I mentioned, back on November 1. His daughter by a second marriage, my Aunt Judy, was coming up to The Birches to bring some of his furniture for Mother's room. They were bringing a dresser and the headboard and footboard of his bed.

Rob was also meeting us there and my best friend from high school and beyond, Celeste, was with me. I had reserved the dining room again for our dinner. The others were already there when Celeste and I arrived at 11 am. With time before the lunch hour, Judy took my mother for a walk while the rest of us moved furniture. It looks nice...having a real bed instead of just mattresses on a frame makes the room seem even homier.

I looked in the closet. There was yet another sweater that did not belong to my mother. These other clothes do not have names in them, so I have no idea where they came from. But they are not hers. I moved the items in the old dresser to the new. There was not much there. I found exactly three socks...none of which matched the other. I hope they are doing laundry soon.

Judy brought Mother's Christmas present, some nice velour pants. Mother seemed to need to rush to the bathroom many times. I took advantage of one of those times to help her try on her new pants. I asked her if the Depends she was wearing needed changing...if it was wet. She said no. I looked and it was soaked.

It is an oddly humbling thing to change your mother's diapers. It is not humbling in the bad sense...of feeling low and lesser. It is humbling in the sense of wondering how you came by this particular honor. In a way I can't quite describe, it was receiving a gift I did not have the chance to care for one who once cared so for me.

Life in its later stages reverts to a younger age...not only in the state of mind, but in the focus of activity. It is more basic now...eating, sleeping, bathroom duties. Yet, instead of mastering those things to move on to more complex activities, there is a sense of loss. Life will not be interesting for her any more. She has the wistfulness of one who knows that things...important things...have passed beyond reach and even memory.

She spoke little during the long more than a fly on the wall observing the animated conversation around her. She was not as sleepy, however, and did not head straight for the bed when we eventually went back to her room. She tried to follow us all out the door, coming with us to the limits of her world. So I let the others go ahead and took her back to the common dining room. One of the aides suggested that she sit next to Harold and keep him company for a bit. She sat down. As I left I could hear Frances say, "That's Russell's seat."


Blogger Gail Rae said...

I'm so pleased to read that you have a sense of honor about companionating your mother through her Ancient years, especially in what seem to be the minor, messy tasks. So do I. Sometimes, the sense of honor is overwhelming. There are also times when I wonder what I did to deserve the blessing of being here with her. It's as though I've been invited, by special, gold edged invitation, to inhabit a lavish and incomprehensible land because someone, or Someone, thinks I'm up to the challenge, thus, deserving of the delights.
Thank you, Anne, for saying this.

6:04 PM  

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