Alzheimer’s and after the loss

I’m sitting here in my study this morning and life resembles what used to be normal, causing my mind to drift. I check the clock on the wall and wonder if it is too early to call Mom. And then I remember.

The phone rings and I remember exactly how my mother sounded on the other end when she’d call.

Small things.

Deeply ingrained things.

I turn my thoughts to my dad, alone in his room at the nursing home. Our home health aide Larry will be there in about an hour. So far we’ve kept a daily home health aide with Dad for three hours over lunchtime. Initially we did it as a transition and because we were so occupied with caring for Mom that we weren’t able to be with Dad as much as we would have liked.

I have a lot more time now, but much less direction.

We don’t know how much Dad understands about what has transpired over the last seven weeks or so. When we moved Dad from the hospital to the nursing home I told him he was going there for a while. I called it re-hab. And he did receive some speech therapy for a while. I told him Mom was moving there too, in a different room, but in the same building.

I showed him the hallway to get to Mom’s room before she moved in.

I brought Mom to see him after she was living there. She stood up on her own, kissed him and said, “I’m living here now. I’ll be able to see you more often.”

We brought Dad to Hospice for a visit while Mom was there. My sister and I helped her stand up and lean over to kiss him. I have no idea what he thought.

We brought Dad to Mom’s apartment twice after she returned from Hospice. The first time she was conscious, but too weak to stand up and kiss him even with my sister’s and my help. The second time she was not conscious. Both times Dad seemed uncomfortable and would not look at her.

The day Mom died, we all walked over to tell Dad. He cried hard when I told him she was gone and that she was with Annie now. I believe he understood. I don’t know if he remembers.

We took him to the funeral and he sat with dignity beside her coffin.

I would like to be able to give him comfort, but the advice we’ve received is to not bring it up. It could be like learning it anew every time we mention it.

So we put pictures in his room. And I hung a windsock beside his window. And we go on together.