I wrote this in January 2013, after very traumatic family series of events. My wife’s mother was diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumor in November. Her father had been showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease for a year or two previously. Losing his keys and driving privileges was a major blow to his self esteem. As a result the siblings had to arrange for care for their mother and face the realization that their father would need to be confined and cared for during the remainder of his life. It was a very emotional time for all of us. He did not fully understand the impact of what was taking place. The following is a summary of the emotional roller coaster he went through while we stayed with him waiting for him to be placed. I posted this earlier, but feel it is important to share this again to help others understand what caregivers go through.
As sad as this story is, he has since adjusted to his new living quarters and the routines. We recently made the 2500 mile trip to help him celebrate his 90th birthday with some family and friends. It as a great party that he enjoyed, but the next day he did not remember how old he was nor that he had a party. These are the joys and challenges of Alzheimer’s. Living in the moment is all we have!
Memory Goes Out Through Black Holes in the Brain
“I have come to discover that I now have black holes in my brain.
Spaces of emptiness that never get filled.
Like the holes in my pants pocket the memories slip out…”
“Oh, you are here? Well I didn’t realize! When did you get here?
You have been here a few weeks? Well I didn’t remember.
Tell me something I should know…
What shall we talk about…”
“Can I do something for you… do you need a light on?
Would you like to watch the News if I turn it on?
Do you want me to set the table for breakfast?
Can I help you in some way?
Would you like a piece of chocolate? Go ahead have one!”
“Is this Sunday? Are we going to church today?
Where is Mother & when is she coming home?
She won’t be coming back home? Oh my!
These are things I should remember.
When will we go to see here again? Can we go today?
We were there today?
Why can’t I remember? Were we just there today?!”
“I remember my grandmother was just like this.
She would apologize for her poor memory all the time.
I hope I never get that way.”
“By the way, where is Mother?
Do you know when she will be back?
She’s at the home!!? I didn’t know.
Somebody should have told me!”
“When will she be coming home?
You say she won’t be coming home!?
Oh my, I will have to learn to cook!
Perhaps you can show me how to cook…”
I will have to take care of myself.
“I just discovered I have no money in my wallet!
Can you take me by the bank tomorrow to cash a check?
I should pay you something for your expenses.
You are keeping the expenses on a tab?
Well, I should pay you.
You will take care of me? But you can’t keep coming to stay with me?
I should pay you something to help with the expenses.
You are using a debit card… from my account?
Well, I wonder why the bank didn’t notify me about this.”
“Tell me, Where is Mother?
Oh yes, she is at the home… up on 104th Avenue…
near Hollyrood close to the church.
Have I ever been there? I have… I don’t seem to remember.
Will she be coming home this evening?
She’s Living there… all the time? For how long!?
She won’t be coming home again? Is she sick? What is wrong with her?”
“Can you take me with you when you go to see her?
Can we go this evening to see her?
We were just there this afternoon? Why can’t I remember that?”
“Good night, I must check to see that the door is locked.
I just came back out to see if I had locked the door.
Well it looks like all the doors are locked.
Is anybody there…
Oh, I just came back out to check to see if the door was locked.”
“Good Morning… Where is Helen?”
Written in memory of Ruth’s father. who was in the stress of losing his wife to a brain tumor as well as losing his own independence to Alzheimer’s disease during the Christmas of 2012.
Photo: Dwight L. Roth