A very bad day with Mother this last week, a reminder that Alzheimer’s is stronger than wishful thinking. No matter what we did, I couldn’t lift her to liveliness. Her smiles were few, her gaze was often vacant, her attitude one of how much a struggle anything was, getting in and out of the car, undressing for her bath. I came home grieving and then today, looking for what to put in this blog, came across notes from nearly a year ago. How sharply I was reminded of a happier time, that change is the only constant, and that I must treasure the present in this disease. This is what I wrote nearly a year ago:
She was so sweet yesterday that I had to stop and hug her more than once. I told her I was going to Reno, where she had lived so happily before Alzheimer’s demanded changes. I told her I was going to see my sister and her daughter. She thought about what I said, then announced, I ought to go, too. Oh, you ought, I thought.She was once a champion traveler, driving all over the states of Texas and Arkansas to see her children and grandchildren, but now travel, the hurry of it, the length of it, the decisions and disruptions, upset and disorient her.
As part of our day, we went to Penney’s to shop, and when we passed the jewelry counter, she noticed a pair of earrings. Those are beautiful, she said. I caught a glimpse of the black belt shopper and jewelry expert she used to be and it hurt my heart. So we bought them. Later, when we were eating, she remembered that I was leaving on a trip. Where are you going? she asked. To Reno, I answered. I should go, she said. Oh, yes, I thought again. You should. Another time, I told her, and that night I helped her put her new earrings in her ears, even though it was after her bath.
Footnote: The earrings are lost now, put away by her somewhere. And treasuring the moment is a skill useful for far more than Alzheimer’s. So I know, but can seldom seem to live.