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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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Birthday Party

With a record-breaking four funerals to prepare this week, I did not get to The Birches on Monday. I did, however, get to see Mother on Saturday as we gathered at my brother and sister-in-law's home to celebrate his birthday.

It was the first time that Mother has been taken to someone's home since going into The Birches in November, and no one was quite sure how she would do. A home setting is a little less structured than a restaurant. Would she be content? Would she be restless and wander? Would Rob and Stephanie ever be able to find anything in their house again after Mother "put it away?" There were many questions.

The day went amazingly well. She didn't balk at eating from a plate on her lap, and the different surroundings didn't seem to change her eating patterns any. She ate all her salad, a tiny bit of the main meal, and all of the Ice Cream Cake. It was actually a joint birthday celebration for another young man who is close enough to our family that he called Mother "Grandma," and one of Martin's gifts was a joke book. As people read from the joke book, Mother laughed herself silly, just like everyone else. Who knows if she understood the jokes, and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have liked some of them back in the days when she had her full faculties, but it doesn't matter. Laughter is good for both body and soul, and laugh she did.

She seemed right at home there, sitting on the couch, surrounded by family. And, really, that's what home is. The place is relatively minor. Home is where the love is. I think that's one of the reasons that she was able to adjust at The Birches. She never balked at the location. A room and a bed is a room and a bed, wherever it is. She accepted the place as home. But, for awhile, it was painful that her family didn't live there. It was a place, but the love didn't live there.

Over time, however, she has formed some bonds at The Birches. It's a wonder to me that relationships can form where everyone is so terribly limited in their mental capacity. But they form sure enough. And so, more and more, there is love at The Birches, even when family members cannot be there. She can't form a coherent sentence, but others love her just the same...both staff and residents. She can't really do anything for other residents, and yet she attentively rushes to someone's side when they are in distress. Love has the ability to bypass the mind, because God is love.

And so my mother had a good time at the birthday party. But it makes me sad as I reflect back on poor Dot last week...cast from the table and the presence of others...banished to her room. How can she be home?


Blogger Gail Rae said...

I've been thinking a lot about love, lately, actually, so I enjoyed this gives me another angle to consider, chiefly that love isn't contained in what we say or what we do, but that we are, among others who also are.

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