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, December 24, 2005

Christmas Party

The Birches is great about having parties, and this Christmas brought the second time we had the opportunity to feast with Mother at their holiday party. No political correctness there, the carols came from the piano, whether they were sacred or secular, the egg nog and wine flowed, and the food...both hot and cold...was superb.

While the food could easily have made supper, the residents had their usual evening meal at about 4:30, so Mother wasn't particularly hungry. In those situations, Mother has an interesting relationship to her food. I don't know what she did with food as a toddler, when so many take to smearing it in various places or to seeing how food might function as a projectile. But for Mother, foods that aren't eaten become supplies for an art project.

I was sorry that we had to get up and have our picture taken when we did because her art project on this particular night was just about to get much more interesting with the addition of a brownie that she had just carefully cut into four perfectly equal squares, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of her creation. My apologies for the photo quality here...I forgot my camera and was using a much older model.

Okay, so graphic arts never were a strength, but she seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.

Here we are together on the occasion.

As I mentioned, eventually we stopped stuffing our faces with shrimp, sweet and sour meatballs, and strawberry shortcake and went to another room to have our picture taken as a family. Then we went down to Mother's room. Rob and Stephanie couldn't visit on Christmas itself, so Rob had brought their Christmas present for Mother to open.

She now has a stuffed skunk (in honor of our one-time pet skunk, Petunia) and a stuffed cat in honor of the dozens of stray cats that found refuge at our home. The pictures I took of that unveiling had the unnerving quality of turning Mother into a ghost, so that you could see right through her and her presents to the opposite wall. I chose not to post any here, lest they become prophetic.

After the gift-opening, Mother kept walking around the room. We asked her if she wouldn't like to sit down on the bed. "If I did, I might have to change my clothes," she said. Taking that as a sign that perhaps a bathroom stop was in order, we headed in there and David followed her. Peals of laughter began coming from the bathroom and soon they both emerged. "False alarm," said Mother.

Yet still she wandered, this time repeatedly toward the closet (where someone else's coat was nicely hung). "What are you looking for?" Rob asked. "I'm waiting for Mrs. Colbert," she said. I suspect Mrs. Colbert might be kin to Godot. And so we said our goodbyes and went on our way, hoping that the long-awaited Mrs. Colbert might come sooner rather than later.


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