Alzheimer’s surprises

It’s hard sometimes to write about my dad’s Alzheimer’s from an objective perspective. Once I am there with him, I sort of enter into that world of a little bit crazy. So things don’t seem odd.

I don’t notice that my dad is up only long enough in the morning to take a shower with assistance, eat breakfast, and then return to bed. Or that he sleeps most of the afternoon away. It’s just the way it is.

It’s normal for my mom to coax him to roll over onto his back when it’s time to get up, and even give him a physical boost to make that happen, or for her to grab his left arm to assist him as he pushes up with his right. The whole routine of getting Dad out of bed is just that—routine.

So when we sat at the kitchen table working on his memory scrapbook together, it wasn’t odd to me that Dad trimmed the photographs in unique ways.

I wanted him to trim the excess photo paper from around the rectangular print I had printed out at home earlier. “Here, Dad,” you just need to cut along these lines around the square.”

He did that fine. And while I was distracted with trying to add color and decoration to the page, Dad continued to cut on the photograph. The square wedding portrait of him and Mom now had rounded corners across the top that cut off a section of each of their heads. The convertible they sat in as they left the wedding had been trimmed from the background at the bottom.

Dad likes using scissors. But since he cut the logo out of the middle of a pair of his shorts while he was wearing them, scissors have been put on the controlled objects list.

“Good,” I’d say, “I think you’re done with this one.”

Not much that Dad does surprises me, because I join him where he is.

But yesterday, Dad did surprise me. As I’ve mentioned before, Dad doesn’t say much anymore. Yesterday the only things he said were “your mother” when I pointed to her in a wedding picture and asked if he knew who it was, and “me,” when I pointed to a much younger version of him.

Then out of the blue Dad asked, “How is Mrs. Grote?”

He was asking about my mother-in-law who was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t respond for a minute because his question took me out of context. His question jolted me out of crazy and back into real.

“She’s doing okay,” I said.

Amazing.

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Author: CMSmith

I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, photography, genealogy and travel. I have opinions about many things, but am trying to age gracefully and not continually tick people off with them. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

27 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s surprises”

  1. What a world it must be to be trapped inside your body with glimpses of reality intermittently flashing. You are such a good daughter. I had to chuckle at the “scissors have been put on the controlled objects list”–that could have ended very badly. You are such a great writer and doing so much for your parents now that Annie is gone. Keep the faith.

    1. I know. It’s such a horrible condition for the people who are trapped there. He often seems frightened of things. Sometimes it scares him to sit or lie down as if there will be nothing there behind him to catch him. As if he exists in some great void.

      Sometimes you just have to laugh.

  2. What a moving post and so well written. And a beautiful photo of your parents — I love it. I can imagine that it seems natural to be in the moment when you’re with your dad; I can feel that through your writing. It feels so natural as though I’m right there with you.

  3. Sad to say, your instincts are exactly right.
    You know the trajectory for your Dad.
    Your mom is the one truly at risk. What to do about it? I never figured it out, but I hope and pray for you that you will.

  4. It seems to me, following your blog, that you are often really really there for your mom, both by relieving her of the burden of full attention as you spend time with your dad, and also by being there for her as well by keeping her company.
    Is there respite day care (or morning care, or something like that) available where they live? To give her a few time outs?
    My heart goes out to you, Christine, and to your folks.

    And hey, you have to take care of Christine too! Like the oxygen masks on planes, you have to have yours on first before you can help anybody else.

    1. My parents have a home health aide for three hours Monday through Friday. But Mom is on her own on the weekend.

      I do think Mom just enjoys my company and sitting and talking with me. Her life is so limited now. It always was, to some degree, with Annie, but now she never goes anywhere. I try to get her out, but she says she doesn’t feel good enough to go anywhere.

      I’m sticking with her.

      Thanks for thinking of me. It gets to me emotionally some times, but physically, not much has been asked of me.

  5. Somewhere in the haze there are still connections, threads to the here and now. If only you could take hold of that thread and haul him back. It must be hard. But love will always strengthen the bond.

    1. Wouldn’t that be nice? I feel like that sometimes when I’m with him and I see a glimmer in his eyes. I think, come out here with me, Dad. It’s better if I just don’t think about it.

  6. Beautifully written, Christine. So poignant. Interesting, too–always the unexpected–and of course sad, especially for the family. I’ve had some close contact with a few people who had Alz. My thought has always been that they’ve now finished their course here on earth, and now we are the ones who are learning valuable lessons about love: you reach out to him in love now but also remember who he was/really is. And lessons about patience. This last is what is my most difficult trial with my head injured daughter whose “agitation fits” aren’t really her but are the result of the brain injury.

    I think you’re dealing with this beautifully!

    1. I visited your guest post. Sounds like you have a lot of things going on. Don’t miss my information on my recently self-published memoir, Dancing in Heaven —https://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com/dancing-in-heaven/

      Thanks for stopping by. Ann is great. And so is her book.

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