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, March 08, 2005

March 7, 2005

It was really an in-between sort of day. When I arrived, Mother was standing in front of her window, adjusting her sweater. She greeted me with a kiss and then lay down on the bed. I took off my coat, put my things down, and sat on the bed next to her, taking out the newsletter from the New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which I had just received.

I showed her the back cover where there was a good-sized plug for my new book and a picture of the cover. "Here's something about my new book," I said. "It will be out in just a couple more weeks." She actually lit up for a moment. For about five seconds there was a recognition that this was an accomplishment I had been working toward since childhood, and she was pleased for me. And then it passed, and she lay back down on the bed.

Shortly the aide came down to say that lunch was ready, so we made our way down to the regular dining room. We were at a new table today, seated with two other women, Pearl and someone else whose name I could not get. It was a small, square table, as they all are. Mother and I were seated across from each other. The other women said absolutely nothing, except to smile or nod when I asked a question or made a comment. Mother took her cue from them.

Dot was her usual self, this time repeatedly asking for coffee, but there wasn't any. This new table put me right next to the table where Carl and his wife and one other woman usually sit. Carl was still nowhere to be seen, but I gathered from the conversation at that table that he is in the hospital or rehab or something.

Mother did pretty well with her food, and I got them to give her some coffee ice cream with her cake. When lunch was over we headed back to her room for a bathroom run. She headed for the bed after that, so I asked if she wanted to do a puzzle. She allowed that she might, so we headed back down to the dining area, grabbed a puzzle and sat at the table where Carl's wife had been sitting.

The two women who had been our silent guardians at lunch had not moved. They sat there still, not a word leaving their lips. Behind us, however, was a truly delightful conversation between Frances, Russell, and...of all people...Dot. I smiled as I heard Dot talk about her sister, who could never get enough to eat, always had to have more, etc. Mother and I began working on our puzzle (two kittens in a mailbox), as the conversation behind us shifted.

They...Frances, Russell, and Dot...began to talk about The Birches. They talked about what a great place it was and how much the staff cared for them. They talked about how it was difficult to be anywhere that wasn't home, but that this was about as good a place as any, if you had to go somewhere. They went on and on...each of them taking a turn to say how well cared for they were.

In the meantime, Mother and I got the puzzle finished...minus one missing piece...and then she was ready to head back to her bed. I brought a book, so I settled in to read a chapter as she lay down, but this time she seemed really bent on sleep rather than intermittent conversation. I read a chapter without interruption, and then it was time for me to leave. "I'll be back next Monday," I told her. "Put that down for me," she said, "So I'll remember." I checked to be sure the schedule of visits was posted on the dry-erase board in the bathroom, which it was. Then I kissed her goodbye.

I think Frances and Russell and Dot were right. It is a good place...if you have to be somewhere.


Blogger Gail Rae said...

"...our silent guardians at lunch..."
I like that. Nice turn of description.

5:24 PM  

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