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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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ice Cream

It's Saturday, but the day was warm and beautiful and a sudden spurt of writing last night made me feel a bit less anxious about deadlines. So, when Laurie wrote this morning and said she and David were going tomorrow instead of today, I decided to head for The Birches.

Not that heading north to NH on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon is tremendously smart. Everyone else on the planet had the same idea and the one hour trip took me two. But I did get there at last and found Mother standing in the dining room with one other resident, waiting to be taken upstairs to Bingo.

Russell was seated where he always is for lunch, but was out of his wheelchair and had his walker beside him. So he must not have broken anything when he fell a few weeks back. Frances was seated opposite him and seemed starved for company, so we chatted a bit. She is such a sweetheart.

Then I told Mother she was not going to Bingo, but that we were going out for ice cream. Marie has told me about a place just up the road called Beech Hill Farms where there is not only good ice cream but some farm animals as well. Sounded perfect for a perfect day.

It takes some doing to get Mother out of her room these days...not because she doesn't want to leave, but because she is trying to check things and be sure all is in order before she goes. So after checking the bathroom, all her animals, walking in the closet, checking the bed, and going through both of her pocketbooks, I finally was able to guide her out the door. She stopped to see Russell on the way out and bent over and kissed him on the cheek. "Want another one?" she asked him. I pulled her along before things got out of hand.

She dealt easily with the car, and soon we were on our way. The place is about four miles out and perfectly lovely. We sat under a huge oak tree and ate our ice cream, and as Mother was coming to the end of her cone, a good-sized dog (who apparently lives there and has learned to beg professionally) came to stare at her last bites. "Do you really want every last bit of that?" his gaze asked...ears perked, head cocked. She looked at the remainder of her cone and then at the dog. The dog scored and then moved on to the next table.

We got up and I said, "Why don't we go look at the animals?" "I don't know," she answered. So we wandered around...all sorts of barnyard beasts were there...some rabbits, some sheep, a couple of pigs, some peacocks, goats, two shetland ponies and a donkey. So we made the rounds, and by that time she was finally ready to take her sweater off. The temperature was in the mid-eighties in the shade.

Eventually it was time to go and we piled back in the car and headed back to The Birches. I hurried her back past Russell and to her room where we had a prayer, and I left. We didn't really talk much. We ate ice cream, enjoyed the breeze and the animals and just generally enjoyed the day. There are sunlit glades on even the hardest roads.


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