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, August 17, 2005


I know it's not theologically sound, but there are certainly times when life seems to conspire against us. Losses compound and come in multiples. Maybe it's a test of strength. Maybe there's some deep karma. Maybe I'm imagining things.

Last week my grandmother died. It was expected. She was 96, and had no quality of life. One can hardly call it tragic. (Although when I said something similar about my grandfather's passing at 92 last November, the pew of 90-somethings in the church voiced strenuous objection to the implied conclusion that they should be happy to up and kick the bucket any time now.)

In any case, the last of my grandparents is gone, and after a funeral here on Thursday for a church member, I traveled to Stratford, Connecticut last Friday and Saturday to conduct my grandmother's funeral. I came back Saturday night and preached here on Sunday morning.

I had re-thought my Monday luncheon dilemma by trying to see if I could simply take Mother out to eat on Mondays, instead of upsetting the applecart at The Birches. But I was too exhausted this past Monday to try it. But I had space at the end of the week so I thought I would head up to The Birches on Thursday, with the dog (Grace), and then get some R&R at the cabin through Saturday.

Adding to my exhaustion was interrupted sleep because Grace was having problems. She has thrown up from time to time, seemed to be uncomfortable lying down anywhere, and was generally draggy. So I knew if I went to the cabin, she'd have to come with me.

I thought at first that it was emotional trauma because I left her overnight to go to the funeral. It was the first night I have been away since moving down here and the first night she has spent without someone with her in the house for many years. I also knew she had a broken tooth, which has affected her eating, and I thought that maybe something had gotten infected. She kept getting worse, so yesterday I took her to a vet, bringing her records from Dover. Her vitals were normal, but they took blood work to be sure, and I mentally prepared myself for a trip to the doggie dentist to fix her mouth. She was down to 45 pounds.

I called this afternoon to get the results of the blood work. The numbers had changed dramatically from her last test in February. She is in renal failure. She also has too much phosphorus, which may be upsetting her stomach. This was not good news. It's not a stage for dialysis or anything that extreme, but they don't yet know what's causing it. So, I had to take a urine sample quickly to the vet and came home with special food to feed her six times a day and a host of medications to be coordinated in and around and before those six feedings.

So I've cancelled appointments for tomorrow, gave away the cabin for the weekend, and will probably not get to Concord this week, unless there is some dramatic change in the next couple of days.

And in all of it, I wonder about Mother. Does she know I haven't been there since a week ago Saturday? Does she remember that I WAS there a week ago Saturday and that we sat under the tall oaks and ate ice cream? Does she miss me? When we have both left this world behind and sit together eating ice cream on the other side, will any of it matter? Probably not. But I wish it were different anyway.


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7:27 PM  

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