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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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day today. Because of my responsibilities at church and the distance to Concord, we couldn't get to The Birches in time for their regular dinner time. So we gathered and took her out to a nearby restaurant at 2 pm. There were twelve of us together for a combination of celebrations. Five (including Mother and myself) have May birthdays. Rob and Stephanie have a May wedding anniversary. And there were three mothers.

I rode with David and Laurie and we picked Mother up about 1:30. They had her dressed...who knew that pink knee socks go with a royal blue suit...and we were off to the restaurant.

She did very well and, like on prior occasions where we have all gathered, seemed to enjoy herself. She laughed a lot, even when nothing was particularly funny, and perked up as we told some infamous tales of Rob as a teenager playing pranks on friend and stranger alike.

Once she chimed in to a lively conversation and so everyone stopped to listen. She spoke for a sentence or least it had the grammar of a sentence, but the words made no sense...and there was an awkward pause as each of eleven other people tried to figure out how to make a response.

It was a painful moment that everyone knew and no one could voice--she who once created the sense of our worlds could no longer even make sense in a sentence. Had she been just a random stranger, the responses would have come readily--there were a number of quick-witted people at the table. But that wasn't what the silence was about. It was about what couldn't be said. It was about being silence because we were in public and couldn't sob. In different ways she had once brought meaning to every person at that table. And so we strained for more...we tried to hear...we would have cut off our arms to understand. But we could not, and so we were silent.

And then there was cake and presents followed by goodbye's and the trip back to The Birches. She had yet to receive one of the gifts from David, because it was too big to bring into the restaurant. We got her back into her room and into the bathroom. When she came out, there was a life-sized, stuffed black lab standing by one of the chairs. She sat down in the chair and stroked the dog.

"Have you given him a name?" asked David. "No," she said...a bit perplexed. "Why would I want to change it from the one he has?" No one knew why she would. We got her other gifts put away, and Mother continued to sit by the dog. "Maybe you can call it Muggins," I offered, remembering the black lab we had when I was a teen. The memory was instant and she intensified her interest in the dog. "Oh!" she said. "Muggins!" She called to him, trying to get his attention..."Muuuggiiins..." Stuffed dogs are not particularly obedient, however, and it didn't turn around and look at her no matter how she coaxed. But then the real Muggins wasn't all that obedient either, so she didn't push it.

David suggested she might like to lie down until time for supper (about 15 minutes) and we said goodbye. It was my visit for the week, since I have to be in Massachusetts all day tomorrow. On the way out, I stopped across the hall and gave Eleanor and her roommate a Mother's Day hug and kiss. Frances and Russell were already at the supper table, and I gave Frances the same greeting...telling her again how grateful I am for the care she gives my mother. She said that Mother was a wonderful lady, and I told her I thought she was pretty wonderful herself.

It is Mother's Day today.


Blogger pat said...

Hi, I have cried loads at your story and i wish i was as christian as you. My mother has alzeimers and i have days when i hate her.I even blame her for my fathers death, a heart attack at 71. I did care for her myself, no other siblings, for 2 years and had to put her into a care home.
I visit every thursday and wish I wasnt.Thanks for listening.

12:30 PM  

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