Monday, November 1, 2010

Note to Self....

There is no guarantee either way. It might happen. It might not.

Just in case it happens someday..

This is you. These are your babies beyond the scrapbooks. These are the words that you did not always speak but chose to share. This is who you were and those you love at this period of time. I hope you are not desperately searching for them without seeing them in front of your eyes. Your parents are not here. It is most likely your brothers and sisters are gone too. Don't worry, you will see them soon.
Everyone is right, you shouldn't be driving. Those are your pills and you are supposed to take them. Take your shower and listen to them. They love you.

Your mother and your grandmother are not there now. But they were where you are now. Confused. A little lost. Sometimes really pissed off. 

Your grandmothers cheek was like a silk cased feather pillow, dusted with powdered sugar when you rested against it. She used Ponds her whole life. Her voice was a river you floated along in a daydream as a child and you liked the way it sounded when she voiced the name of her sister so much that you named your youngest child the same so that you would continue to hear the voice. When she was young she was a flapper! She was really something. You weren't her favorite. She liked the brown eyed cousins best but that was ok. She lived with them and helped raise them. When this happened to her she had hallucinations of bugs. She would ask people if they could see them.  Her grandmother had spoke German to her as a small child and she had forgotten most of it. One night she woke your uncle's family in the middle of the night yelling at them in fluent German. The mind is a very strange thing. Then she began to wander away from home. She got lost. They had no choice.
You saw what it did to your mom when this happened to your grandmother. You watched as she worked all day and then rushed to the nursing home almost every night. The attendants were washing your grandmothers face with soap. The silk was turning to linen. Coarse and wrinkled, when it began to peel your mother cried. She bought Ponds and would sit on the edge of the bed. Gently, lovingly rubbing the cream into your grandmothers face. Desperately trying to save ....something. Some part of her mother.

Your mother had more lines in her face but not a lot. She took some care. She loved to keep busy. Working, volunteering,  just going somewhere. She was your friend. At first it was ok when it began to happen. You could tell her your favorite stories over and over and she never tired of them.  Everyone joked the first time she put bologna in the freezer and then couldn't find it. It was years before these episodes began to show a consistent pattern. Long before it was obvious she once called, angry at your father because he had given away a special box. Did you have it? No, you don't remember ever seeing it. He just told her she was wrong. He didn't point out that it never existed. He just let her rant it out. After he was gone the problems at work became apparent. This new boss was undermining her. Plotting against her. She should retire. Then she began  searching for the missing little boy. Where did he go? You felt sad because you thought she was missing your brother. He had been a grown man but he was her boy. She knew someone was missing that should not be. More people became missing. Ones who were long gone and the ones in front of her face.
The dead were waited for patiently, with purse in her lap. The family in front of her face, kind strangers. She enjoyed her visit very much but was ready to go home now. My husband and kids are waiting for me. Have you seen my mother?

You saw what it did to all of you when this happened to your mom.

So just in case
you are waiting for your mom right now, just relax. There will be time for that before you know it. Your face will have the most lines. It already does. You did not have the most difficult life. You stayed out in the sun too much. Dummy. Is there a cute old guy around? I bet he'll kiss you if you ask.
Your husband and children have said that if it happens they will keep you home and take care of you. You told them to please put you in a nice facility. This is a personal choice.  You never want to be that kind of burden. You never want your grandchildren to remember a person who was not aware of their love. They can explain it to them all day long. It does not stop the pain.

Read. If you can't remember it is alright. You won't notice the difference.

Feel free to burst into song in public. I insist on it.

© 2010 All Rights Reserved

November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
Here are some ways you can help.
Visit the Alzheimer's Association Website
Join or start a Memory Walk  in your area.
Or read for more information on Alzheimer's Disease and ways to help further the search for a cure.
The memory you save may be your own....or possibly mine ; )

Equally Important:
If you know someone who is a Caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's, Reach Out. Support. Listen.


  1. Beautiful. You made a bulllseye.

  2. This is a pretty amazing post. Intense, raw, tell it how it is but nonetheless beautiful and moving for it.

    if this is your mother and your fear is this will be you, I would just say I know there is so much research being done, earlier and earlier detection, tests you can take etc. to protect yourself and also help further development of treatment for this disease. I recently read Still Alice - until then I had never appreciated just how debilitating this is and how it affects the entire family so very much.

  3. It's a hideous disease that stole my grandmother piece by piece and I fear it has plans for me, too. What a well-written post and my thoughts are with you.

  4. GB's Mom: Thank you : )

    Aging Mommy: It really is my only fear. My mom had medications that helped. They just need to invent some floss for brain plaque!

    Erica: Hideous is completely accurate. My aunt was recently diagnosed too. I fear getting it tremendously but have no clue yet if I will. At best I will be blessed for it to miss me. At worst I still could have 35 more years of knowing where the hell I am.

  5. I've seen this happen to my friends grandmom when we were in highschool. Words can't explain

  6. This is an absolute wow and you are amazing. Beautifully expressed.

  7. So moving. My grandmother had severe senile dementia, and it was so so difficult to watch, and so painful to identify with her own frustration. She was very frustrated. But Aging Mommy makes a great point - I will hang on to it!

  8. everyone has already said it. moving.

    i pray you never need them in that way, but i'm glad you have girls. i have watched my mother take care of her mother in an entirely different way. a mind sharp as a tack trapped in a failing body. neither is pleasant.

    i wasn't there, but my own image of your mother smoothing ponds (something my mama uses daily as well) onto your grandmothers face is going to haunt me... but in a really beautiful way.

  9. Haven't dealt with it personally but you captured it so powerfully.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Help MamaR: That is true Nicole. I still can't find them all.

    blueviolet: Thank you, I appreciate that : )

    Peryl: It is hard to watch and frustration was a big part of it for my mom too.

    Elissa : Thanks, Being physically confined and mentally aware is just as heartbreaking.
    How we love our mothers, huh: )

    Bibliomama: Thanks, keep breathing, it's emperative to those brain cells: )

    Abbie: I hope you never have to: )Thank you too.

  11. I am so afraid of this, too. My mother has early Alzheimer's and I can't stand how she doesn't know which daughter I am.

    Can't type right now, I"m crying..

    I'm scared, too.

  12. I had a great aunt who passed away from Alzheimer's. She had it for over 10 years, and I remember her going out east for a few clinical trials of meds.

  13. I think I had a great grandma with this. I don't give it much thought. Quite removed from it now. Thanks for making me think.

  14. This is so emotionally charged, yet beautiful in the way it flows and loves and fears. Like a moving piece.

    I can't imagine how hard it is to wonder about. You are a strong woman and the medical technologies will advance.

    Thank you for this post and making us aware of how to help.

  15. Empress: It breaks my heart to think I made you cry. I don't like to hit a nerve that raw. I am so sorry your family is going through this. It can be a scary and helpless feeling.

    Liz: Meds helped my mom a lot. First signs that it's for real I am there even if I have to wear one of those weird helmets.

    LindaFaye: If it's not happening often in a family it's not something we usually prepare for. Always something to keep in mind as we get older though: )

    Angelia: I hope to miss it altogether but if not and for the sake of my kids, nieces and nephews, I so hope they figure it out someday.

  16. Rampant Alzheimer's on my Dad's side. Helped with my Oma, Now my 93yr old Nana is telling us men are crawling through her wall. My Dad feels he's in the early stages. I too want to be put in a home without any guilt on my children's part. They won't be able to help me. I may decided on a one way ticket to Holland and have a nice little daughter tell me to have a nice nap. Probably not, but I like to think I have some control over what happens.


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