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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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Glimpse

I am again behind in my postings. It's been busy, but as I think I've said before, it becomes harder and harder to write. Emotionally it pulls everything out of me to go back into the experience, even if it hasn't been a particularly interesting visit. But I guess that's what therapy is about, and that's what this blog is for me.

So I went up to the Birches the first week in November. I was preaching in the next town over and had an all out battle with myself about stopping in for a visit. The voice on one side was aghast that I would even consider NOT going to see my own mother when I was so close. What sort of a waste of space was I to not give her that much? That side made me tell a whole bunch of people at church that I was on my way to see her in order to reinforce the idea.

The other side pleaded the cause of my sanity. Even though it was only 1 pm, I had been up since 3:45 that morning to drive all the way up there for their multiple services. With two services and a dinner at the church I had already expended a lot of emotional energy and had to drive almost three hours home still. Seeing my mother was always so draining. My legs didn't think they could walk in there. She wouldn't know anyway. I was so tired.

I got in the car still not knowing what I would do. In the end, I agreed with my first self, that couldn't live with my other self if I drove by. Since I don't want schizophrenia in my future, I decided to keep the peace and stop in, tired as I was.

When I got up to her floor, everyone was gathered in the Great Room for a concert. Students from a nearby college had come to play their instruments...little solo numbers they did one at a time. There was a piano, a violin, a clarinet, a saxophone, and a flute. They were actually quite good, playing a segment of a concerto or sonata for their instrument.

Mother was a musician. She played oboe, which is about the hardest instrument in the orchestra. She also played a bit of piano and she could follow the alto line pretty well in a choir. So here was a musician, who taught young people for a living, listening to some pretty good music played by youth.

She wasn't paying the first bit of attention, at least not in the way you would normally judge body language. She was fiddling with her fingernails and the crease in her pants. Lots of others around me said hello and acknowledged my presence in any number of friendly ways. Mother fiddled with her fingernails and the crease in her pants, even as I gave her a kiss and others moved around to accommodate another chair.

At the end of the concert I took her back to her room. To get home before I fell asleep at the wheel I really did have to go. She had been yawning during a good bit of the concert, so I brought her to the bed. With the arthritis and other issues she has now, I couldn't get her to a lying down position by myself, so I decided to search for an aide on my way out.

But before leaving, I gave her another kiss and a hug. I stroked her hair a bit and she looked at me. "I love you," I said. And there it was. Her. Mother. She was in there, behind those eyes. At the words of love, the woman roaming aimelessly through useless gray matter came out from behind a synapse to make a connection. It was brief...maybe a second or two, but she was there. I saw her. And both sides of me went home satisfied.


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