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, October 18, 2006

Beech Hill

Mother and I and a goat at Beech Hill Yes, we managed to make it out for ice cream yet another time. Well, maybe that's not obvious since this is just a picture of us with a goat, but if you remember back to the other pictures of Beech Hill Farm, you'll know that this is just a couple of miles from the Birches and they have great ice cream. They also have a bunch of farm animals (thus the goats) and a corn maze (which we declined to try).

Who is taking this picture, you might ask. The peacock? No, it was Marie. When I arrived at the Birches and pressed the little red button to let myself in, the door opened and out came Marie and mother, heading out to get ice cream. Marie and I each used to have our specific visiting days (thus the title of this blog), but with our work schedules both changed, we now both just come as we can. This time it was on the same day. So, with visions of Moose Tracks in my head, we all piled into the car and headed for Beech Hill.

Piled is perhaps the wrong word. Mother's arthritis makes it more and more difficult to get down and up, and swinging her body and legs around to get in a car is difficult. And it seems to hurt. So I'm not sure how much longer the lure of ice cream will trump the pain, but for this time it did.

Visits like this are a mixed blessing. As I drive up, I am always worried about what we will do. I know it's about being and not doing, but old habits die hard, and I feel awkward thinking that I will come in and just sit or try to start a conversation that never starts. It seems silly to worry about being socially inept in such a setting, but nothing about our emotional lives is very sensible in the end. So there's a feeling of relief to arrive and have Marie there, a decision to go already made, conversation guaranteed. But there's also the sense of loss...always and everywhere loss. Maybe Mother would have said something meaningful if we had simply been sitting quietly in her room. Or maybe not. Maybe next time the goat will sing an aria from Candide. Or maybe we will just go for ice cream.


Anonymous Mona Johnson said...


Thanks for the picture - it looks like a nice visit, despite your worries.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Deb Peterson said...

Anne--I can hear my own concerns in your words. My one-to-one relationship with my mother is changing so dramatically, in ways that you describe with your Mom. How to communicate? Just from looking at your photo I can tell that the routine of going to get ice cream is just as effective as a reassuring conversation. When it gets too cold for that, I'm sure you'll create a winter routine that will last until the ice cream places open again in the spring!

I must say that reading your experiences with your Mom in assisted living have given me so much encouragement as my mother is about to begin that journey. I can see from your blog that, although selecting a good facility is important, the attitude and generosity of the caregiver is what will make the situation work. Thanks, Anne.

10:30 AM  

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