I Miss Reading . . . and A LOT of other things!

A friend of mine recently asked me if I had ever read the book, “tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. She said, “he allows himself 10 minutes a day to mourn the passing of the old him.  After that, he lives in the moment for the day.”

I thought about this and although I do “live in the moment”, I don’t take the 10 minutes a day to mourn the passing of the old me. To be honest, I probably take a little too much time to mourn. 

“Don’t cling to things because everything is impermanent.” 
 Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

51AhqmiD-oL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_For instance, I thought to myself, “I would love to read this book, but I wouldn’t be able to remember what I’ve read.” Don’t get me wrong, I “CAN” still read, I just don’t retain anything I have read. Then I started thinking of all the books I’ve read over the years and how much I enjoyed reading. Then I got sad. Instead of taking 10 minutes to mourn, I took a little more . . . OK, A LOT MORE!!!
I not only mourned not being able to retain what I’ve read, I mourned not being able to work anymore. Working not only gave me a purpose but it also provided me with an income, an income that helped me provide for my family. Now, through Social Security Disability Insurance, I receive approximately 3% of the salary I used to receive. I’m thankful for receiving that but sometimes, I only look at the glass half-full.

“I give myself a good cry if I need it, but then I concentrate on all good things still in my life.” 
 Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I also mourn the loss of my driving privileges. Due to my brain hemorrhage that was discovered back in February of this year, as well as the temporary loss of my ability to speak, my Doctor strongly urged that I discontinue driving. I knew what “strongly urged” meant and I knew that would be the last day I would ever drive. I mourned a lot over that . . . and still do, however, it wouldn’t compare to the amount of time I would mourn if I hurt someone in my vehicle or in another vehicle.

“This is part of what a family is about, not just love. It’s knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work.” 
 Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I mourn the loss of friends. When I told Shannon that I wanted to “talk about my Alzheimer’s” she turned to me and said, “just remember, once you put it out there, you can’t take it back.” She was right!
My thought was, talking is my strong suit. By talking about it, it would hopefully help others have a better understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and how individuals like me can still live a pretty good life. Also, by talking about it would keep me engaged, keep my brain working.
What I didn’t know was how many people would stop speaking to/with me because they didn’t think I would be able to carry on a conversation with them. Also, as I wrote about in a previous blog post, there are those who feel I’ve been faking this whole thing.
I wish I didn’t mourn that as much as I do.
However, looking now at the glass half-full, I have met some pretty phenomenal people in the Dementia World. These individuals are some of the bravest, funniest, most intelligent people I have come to know.
I have also discovered my true mission in life and that is being an International Dementia Advocate. It gives me purpose, drive and passion to a level I have never experienced. 

“Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” 
 Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I mourn a lot of other things, too many to go into here, however, I’ve realized by writing this blog post, and although I didn’t read “tuesdays with Morrie” I read some of the quotes from the book (some of which I’ve listed here) and I made myself a note and stuck it on my desk so I will see it every day. I may have to put one on the bathroom mirror, one by my recliner, make it my opening screen on my phone . . . 

  10 min

Whatever it takes to remind me to keep the mourning at a minimum.

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.” 
―  Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I’ve never tried to paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s. I wouldn’t be honest with myself or with you if I did that. Just know, I don’t do it for sympathy. I don’t want nor need anyone’s sympathy. All I want to do is to live the best life I can possibly live in the remaining years that I have, which I hope will be many.
Until then, I’m going to continue my Advocacy Journey, doing the best I can to share awareness and education as it relates to everything Alzheimer’s and other Dementia-Related Illnesses.

Oh yeah, and remember to mourn no more than 10 minutes a day!

Until next time . . .
PEACE

B

Happy Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day being celebrated this Sunday, I wanted to pay homage to ALL MOTHER’S (and this means all individuals who fit the role of a Mother regardless of gender) who selfishly give of themselves, day in and day out.

(Just so you know, I wrote the following Mother’s Day Blog Post 2 years ago. I re-read it for I didn’t want to re-hash anything I had already written but I thought it appropriate to repost it with a few additional words and photos. The additions will be in italics and bold.)

Holidays. There are so many holidays on the calendar that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Some of them are legitimate and some are just made up for some reason or another.
The one holiday that I truly believe is the holiday of holidays is Mother’s Day. The reason I say this is because, without Mother’s, none of us would be here. Sure, the Father’s had a little something to do it with it but the Mother’s are the ones that carry the burden.

In an effort to explain the importance of Mother’s, I went to merriam-webster.com to look up the definition of “Mother.”Mother's Day
This is what I found:
a :  a female parent
b    (1):  a woman in authority; specifically:  the superior of a religious community of women
      (2) :  an old or elderly woman

First, let me say I believe Merriam-Webster needs an update.
Second, I apologize to all Mother’s, both female and male (who assume the role) for the insincerity of the definition.

While I am no expert, and not a recent guest of a Holiday Inn Express, (hope you get the joke) I would like to give my own definition, or explanation, of what a Mother is.

A Mother is someone who:
– can soothe anything, no matter what the age, with a hug and a kiss
– will fiercely protect her family like a lioness protects her cubs
– praises their children for the good they accomplish but also holds them accountable for any and all of their wrongdoings
– can make your favorite meal impossible to replicate because of her “secret special ingredient.”
– can assume the role of sole provider when no other support is available or not given
– can assume the role of caregiver of a spouse/significant other, parent or grown child when that individual is no longer able to support or provide for themselves.
– rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels
– consistently puts others before themselves
– loves unconditionally

A Mother's Love

I could go on and on, however, I think you can see that a Mother cannot be defined by any one definition, especially by the definition provided by our friends in the dictionary profession. A Mother’s definition (can change on a daily or hourly basis or at a moments’ notice.) Defining a Mother is almost impossible because of the infinitive person he/she is.

In addition to caring for her children, most Mother’s are also wives, which involves taking care of a “bigger child” with a different set of issues altogether. Most of the time, that “bigger child” has no clue as to what his wife does on a daily basis because he is too busy complaining about his day, playing golf, getting together with his friends, playing X-Box, Fantasy Football, etc. (Just to be clear, I am not grouping all Men/Husbands into this category, but YOU know who you/they are.)  😉

(My Mother was a stay-at-home wife and Mother. She not only cared for her 5 children (all born within 10 years) she also cared for my Father who, those of you that knew him, could be more than a handful. She did everything that was asked of her and more.
As her own parents aged and then became ill (my Grandmother, unable to walk due to a spinal issue and my Grandfather with Alzheimer’s) my Mother and her sister cared for them.
Later, my mother helped my Sister take care of her daughter, Mary, who was taken from us in 1998 due to Cystic Fibrosis.
Then my Mother helped take care of her own sister Carol until her early death.

She was one of the strongest women I have ever known, but I see a lot of her in my Sister as well as my wife Shannon, who is now my Primary Caregiver. Like I said about my father, those of you who know me understand what a job that must be for Shannon. She is more than a wife and Mother, to me, she is My Hero!

So, for most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by these very strong women, women who have put themselves and their needs last for the benefit of the families they care(d) for.
I know there are many other Mothers in the world who are just like the women I know and love, but as usual, they fly under the radar, some staying as far back in the background as they can so that their “SUPERPOWERS” can remain a secret. However, those that truly know and love them, their secrets have long been revealed.

In my definitions of a Mother, one of the things I stated was, A Mother is someone who: rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels.
When my Mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s, over time she forgot how to do things, forgot what things were, but she still tried. She still had that Motherly Instinct inside trying to get out.

Finally, when she lost her ability to speak, she would sing. (She sang in church for over 40 years and she loved movie soundtracks, especially The Sound of Music. When she would clean, she would put that soundtrack on and just sing away as she cleaned the house.) Although Alzheimer’s took away her speech, she kept that perfect pitch. No longer knowing the words she would make up words or say la la la la, but I could recognize the song. I truly believe it was her way of saying, “Here, let me make YOU feel better by singing to you!.” Even if that wasn’t true, I don’t care. No one can disprove it so I believe it to be true because that’s who my Mother was . . . and although no longer of this earth, STILL IS!

(As a side note, in the last few hours of her life, I was the one singing to her. My sister held the phone up to her ear and I sang her a song.
There was eye movement as I sang as if she was actually hearing my voice. It is said of Individuals with Alzheimer’s, the hearing is last to go. My sister and I will ALWAYS believe she heard the music she so loved. A few hours later, she passed away. With that said, NO ONE will ever tell me the power of music does not matter.) 

Mom's Hands
(I’m not sure of the date of this photo but I do know this is the last photo I have of my Mom and me. She NEVER, EVER went out of the house without makeup on or her hair done, let alone take a photo with no makeup on so I didn’t dare post a photo of her with no make-up or with her hair not done. I wanted everyone to remember her how she was . . . BEAUTIFUL!
At one point during my visit, she reached for my hand with both of hers and we just held hands in silence, looking at each other, she towards the end of her Life with Alzheimer’s and I, just starting out. I’m so glad I was able to capture this moment and although we were silent, I felt we had a great conversation.

So to all the Mother’s in the world, regardless of whether you’re married, divorced, single, an adoptive Mother, a Father filling the role of a Mother, I hope your Mother’s Day is everything you want/need/hope it to be. We all know you deserve much more than just 1 day a year and hopefully, you receive it.

(I will never forget one of the priests at St. Agnes Parish in New Orleans, Fr. McCallion. He had a very strong Northern accent, but it fit right in with what we call a “New Orleans Accent.” Anyway, even to this day, at the end of his homily, I can still hear him giving his Mother’s Day wish as only he could.
” . . . and lastly, I would like to wish all you Mudda’s and Happy Mudda’s Day!”
It would get as big a laugh as it just gave me when I typed it.

So, in the words of Fr. Mac . . . HAPPY MUDDA’S DAY to my Mom, my Sister, my wife and to each and every Mother who reads this!

Until Next Time . . .
Peace!
B

Mother's Day

Taking Care of Our Own

This post is a bit different from what I normally post. I don’t mean to offend anyone, I’m just passionate about what’s going in our Nation. 

For all the folks that want to open our borders to immigrants from other countries, immigrants who will be supported by us, I have a solution.
Open YOUR home to support these individuals as well as their families, and be responsible for all of their actions. Feed them, clothe them and take of their medical needs. That is what you want for them, right? 
Giving them an opportunity, right? Well, now you can. No, I’m not being negative or prejudice. I’m being real.

With that said . . .

Why not take care of our Veterans who need our care? You remember our Veterans? The ones who fought for our rights and freedoms? Our Veterans who, because of their service to our country make it possible for you to stomp on and burn our Nation’s flag? Our Veterans who have to wait because a non-US citizen “needs” medical treatment because they matter more?

Why not take care of our aging population, the ones who gave us life, the ones that took care of us first?

Why not take care of those of us who have a fatal disease and put those dollars into research, respite care and hospice care?

We need to take care of our own, before we begin to take care of others.

I’m sure you take care of your families first, making sure they have all their needs met. Why can’t we, as a nation, take care of each other first and then, and only then, look to taking care of others?

If you still insist on taking care of others first, let me know. I will gladly take donations to help fight Alzheimer’s Disease, the disease that assisted in taking the lives of many of my loved ones and will ultimately assist in taking my life. There are also other organizations that could also desperately use your help.

If you still insist on taking care of others, open your home to a Veteran, a member of the homeless population, or any other US Citizen that could use some help.

See what needs you can assist with in your own community. There are so many individuals right here in my community that are doing wonderful things for the betterment of the people that live here. They are awesome individuals who do these things, not to call attention to themselves, but because they are fulfilling a need for the individuals that live here.

Now, if you are STILL not satisfied, I’m sure there are many Middle Eastern Countries that will welcome you, as well as your support, with open arms and will even provide you with free housing. It may be cramped, dirty, hot and uncomfortable, but don’t worry, your visit will not last very long.

That is what you want, RIGHT?

Have a Great Day!

The Happiest Place on Earth

The Happiest Place on Earth

Yes, I’m talking about “THE” Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disneyworld.
However, it’s not for the reasons you may think.

Let me explain . . . I recently came across an article by Sandy Wells of KABC News entitled, New Approach to Treating Alzheimer’s Disease Replicates Life As It was 60 Years Ago.” http://www.kabc.com/2017/01/09/new-approach-to-treating-alzheimers-disease-focuses-on-long-term-memory/

The article talks about “Reminiscence Therapy” 

Here is an excerpt from the Article:
“Specifically, how that works, and what it has shown is reminiscence therapy really reduces agitation, improves mood and improves sleep quality, all of which are major factors when you’re dealing with the challenges of facing Alzheimer’s Disease. When you think about Town Square, really, what it is, is a complete, immersive environment that’s designed around a 1950’s – 1960’s time period, specifically from 1953 to 1961.

For those of you that don’t know the in’s and out’s of Alzheimer’s Disease, the first thing to go is the short-term memories. It’s why I have trouble remembering things from day to day, week to week, etc . . . However, talk to me about things from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I’m as clear as a bell. So I think it’s awesome that a Town Square atmosphere is going to be built specifically for Individuals with Alzheimer’s in mind. It will put them in an environment where they are comfortable, non-anxious and happy.

So what does this have to do with WDW? I knew you would ask that question sooner or later, so I am prepared to tell you.

My first time going to WDW was in 1976. At that time the park was only 5 years old and the Magic Kingdom was all there was. Since that time, I have been back at least 15-20 times. I’ve lost count. I have seen it grow from just 1 park to 4 and I have been so many times, I know where everything is.

The last time I was there was in September. Shannon surprised me with a trip for my birthday. We had such a wonderful time.
One thing that stood out, and still does, was when we were waiting for the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (the fireworks). Shannon had to go to the restroom so I stayed where we had found a good spot. Several minutes later, Shannon called to tell me she was lost and couldn’t find me. She was more worried about me than being lost. I talked to her to find out her location and I knew right where she was. I told her to look for the light. I turned on my phone’s flashlight and held it up, shining it in her direction. She saw it and followed it back to me.

She asked me, “How did you know where I was? How did you know to hold up the light?”  I had no answer for her. I couldn’t explain it other than to say, “I don’t know, I just knew.”

 On our last day there Shannon and I were talking about how much fun we had and then, she told me this . . .
“Since we have been here, you have shown no signs of Alzheimer’s, you didn’t talk about Alzheimer’s and you didn’t talk to anyone about Alzheimer’s. You even found “ME” when “I” was lost. You were who you used to be and I want you to hold onto that.”


With that said, she took me to the ticket counter and upgraded my park pass to an Annual Pass. She said, “I want you to come back here as often as you can, take as many photos as you like and just be who you used to be.”  I didn’t know what to say. I was elated, emotional, speechless. I didn’t think it was possible to fall more in love with her than I already had, but I did. And no, it wasn’t because she was giving me this gift, it was the reason why she was giving me this gift. She wanted me to feel normal.She wanted me to feel how I used to feel. She wanted me to have the clearest, non-foggy mind I could possibly have in a place I knew so well.

On the ride back home, I thought a lot. I tried to think as to why WDW transported me back to an earlier, normal-brained time. I knew part of it was because I had visited there so many times that everything was familiar. However, something just didn’t click. I was still unsure . . . until I spoke with my sister.

One day, on a phone call with Linda, I was telling her about the gift Shannon had given me. I told how it made me feel being back in WDW. Then I explained to her about not being able to clearly understand why I felt that connection, that is, until she asked me a very simple question . . . “Don’t they play music all through the park?”

When she asked that question, a wave of emotion washed over me, just as it is now. I started hearing the sounds, the musical sounds of  WDW, in my head. It wasn’t a particular sound or a particular song,  it was just the most beautiful, joyous, happy sound I’ve ever heard. Linda, reminded me of my love of music and how musical therapy (listening to your favorite songs from years gone by) can transport you back to a particular time and place. All the pieces of the puzzle fit together and I finally had the answer to my question I had been pondering since September.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of the music but then again, I’m not sure what I think or don’t think anymore. 

The reason I am bringing this up now is next week, I will be in Orlando to be on a panel for the The National AT Aging and Dementia Decision Tree Workshop. I am going there a little early so I can make a quick visit to WDW. Call it being a “kid at heart” or call it “just wanting to feel normal.” I just want to be who I was before Alzheimer’s came along and robbed me of so many things.

Thank you Shannon, for giving me a gift of love, a gift of happiness, a gift of normalcy. Whether you are there with me or I’m by myself, you will ALWAYS be in my heart.

img_4464

Until next time . . . “Have a Magical Day!”

B

You Took My Breath Away

In honor of National Alzheimer’s Awareness and Family Caregivers Month, I wanted to take a moment to Honor Shannon, Asheton and Bradley, for doing what they do, day in and day out, to support me as we all travel along on this Alzheimer’s Journey.

 

I often think back to our wedding day. It’s still far back enough in my long-term memory that I can recall a lot of the details. I also have photos I can refer to when my memory gets clouded.

The one thing that stood out in my mind on that day, and still stands out today, was when I first saw you. I’ll layout the scene:
It was sunset, a cool afternoon on Pensacola Beach. Your family, some of my family and a few close friend had all gathered at the edge of the sand awaiting your arrival. The minister gave me instructions to not look back until he gave me the go ahead.

He told me when you started walking down the steps towards me. I could hear comments of, “Oh, how beautiful!” and “Oh my God, she looks so radiant.” I’m sure there were others but I don’t remember those. Then he told me to turn around.

(I know have told you this many times before but I want everyone who is reading this to know the effect you had on me.)
I’ve never before had my breath taken away nor has it happened since. It was a one-time event . . . so far. When I turned and caught sight of you, I literally couldn’t breathe. I could only stand and stare at this beautiful woman, dressed in white, walking towards me to become my wife. I had never seen anything or anyone so beautiful.

IMG_2059 editedI’m not sure of the words that were said for I heard nothing but waves and birds. I’m sure the Minister was saying some nice things, but I was still not really breathing. I do remember thinking to myself, “What in the hell did I do to deserve the love of this beautiful woman?”  (Just so you know, I still think that today.)

We both wrote our own vows and although I don’t remember exactly what we said, I know the words were beautiful and from the heart. (I also know those words and the original pieces of paper they were written on are in the hope chest along with our other wedding items for safe keeping.)  

I do know that somewhere, mixed in with our own words, were some of the more traditional “wedding vow” words, particularly, for good times and bad, in sickness and in health. When we finally got around to saying our “I Do’s”, I wasn’t just marrying you. Your children were also accepting me into the family.

Back then, we had no idea how true those traditional wedding vows would ring true.  

Over the course of our marriage, as a family, we have dealt with major and minor surgeries, cuts and bruises, illnesses and just plain everyday stuff. We got through it all with the support of each other.

The reason I bring this up is because each time something happened, we healed, we were able to return to whatever was interrupted.
Now, it’s different. You and I both know that I will never be healed and I won’t be able to return to whatever has been interrupted because there is no returning to what was. I try to not think of that and think more of the positive, to remind myself to “Live in the Moment”, to enjoy those moments and attempt to hold on to as much as I can.

You don’t seem to let too much stop you, or at least you hide it very well. Instead, you have stepped up your game. You have readjusted your life. Asheton and Bradley have readjusted their life, but none of you complain. You allow me to do what I “think” I’m able to do and you allow me to fall, both figuratively and realistically, and the three of you are always there to pick me back up and get me back on my feet.

You’re always there, but never in the spotlight. Unlike me, you’re a behind the scenes type of person, staying in the shadows. Asheton and Bradley are like you in that aspect, allowing me to do what I do but still getting 100% of all of your support. They had a very good role model.

The three of you have allowed yourselves to appear on TV, radio, newspapers, magazine articles and so forth, all on my behalf but also stepping outside of your comfort zone for me. I can never thank you enough for everything all of you do but I try to show my appreciation each and every day.

I know our future is both known and unknown. Most people say the unknown is what scares them. I think it’s because they don’t know “the known.” We do! It makes the unknown a lot easier to navigate. I’m fortunate to have 3 travel companions coming along with me on this journey and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

I know I thank you for something several times a day and you graciously accept it telling me, “Oh it’s fine. You would do the same for me.” I see Asheton and Bradley wearing their purple Alzheimer’s shirts to school, while shopping, going to movies, etc, and you wear purple more than I do! As I said before, I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

I don’t think I deserve what the three of you do for me, especially for what I put you through on my bad days. I wish I could control that part but unfortunately, I can’t. No amount of reminders on my phone or Post-Its seem to stop the fog from rolling in.  

Along with being National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, it is also Family Caregiver’s Month. I know you like the term Care Partner better than Caregiver but I didn’t create the term. If I did, you know I would have come up with the correct description.  To me, we are explorers, traveling on a Journey, making new  discoveries each and every day, never knowing what is waiting for us around each bend.

Thank you for taking my hand, letting me lead when I can, you taking the lead when I can’t and just being by my side every step of the way. I love you more than you can ever dream possible.  

B

 

 

Discovering a Gift I Already Had

I was recently challenged by my friend Diane Tisseur, Groovy Lens Photographic Art (check her out) from Quebec, Canada, to post a Nature Photograph for 7 days, while challenging a new person each day to do the same. I’m so glad she did.

13528784_10208116077473971_837420341758672808_n
Photo from Day 1 taken about 3 years ago 

Being asked to do something with my photographs forced me to look at what I had photographed years ago. Seeing these images brought back feelings of joy, peace and satisfaction. It also filled me with a sense of pride to look at some of the beautiful things I created using my camera, my iPhone  but especially, my mind.

Seeing these images transports me back in time, a time I can remember clearly. It’s like listening to your favorite song or smelling a favorite/familiar scent. You go back to that particular time and experience what you were feeling at that time. Being my short-term memory is depleting, utilizing my long-term memory allows to clearly experience the joy and excitement I once had about photography.

It is also forcing me to think outside the box  in an effort to take new photographs. It’s giving me a new sense of purpose, a feeling of excitement. To be honest, it’s giving an escape from thinking only of Alzheimer’s.

So, thank you Diane, for giving me a gift I already had but was hidden in the back of the closet. I’m digging it out and will be putting it to good use.

PEACE,
B

The Disease that Keeps on Taking

This morning when I opened up Facebook, I saw I had a message from a good friend of mine. It read, “My thoughts, love, and prayers are with you today.”
I thought to myself, “How very nice of her to say this.”
Then I read it again and thought, “This is what people usually say when you’re having an operation or you’re starting a new adventure or when you lose someone.”
So, I wrote back to her saying, “Thank You, but why do you say this today?”
Then I looked at the date, January 14th, and tried to think of anything that happened on this day.
Sadness all of a sudden overtook me.

10830689_10204543352758086_1036799725875045458_oI walked over to my desk to look at my “reminder board” and at the top are 2 Prayer Cards from the funeral services of my Dad (2/8/10) and Mom (1/14/15). I knew before I looked but I had to verify, not just that today was the 1 year Anniversary of my Mom’s death, but to realize I had forgotten.
Hours later as I am writing this, tears still flow, not just because she is no longer of this earth but because of the disease I share with her, the disease that took her mind and memories, that same disease that is now taking mine . . . Alzheimer’s.

You know, it’s strange how the Alzheimer’s mind works. The memories don’t come back on their own. A bit of prompting is needed. So, as I sit here trying to remember details of that day, the one and only memory that comes to mind is of a phone call from my sister.
When I first saw her number pop up I froze. You see, my Mom had a stroke a week or so previously and she could no longer chew her food, or swallow for that matter, so a decision was made to allow her to be comfortable and pass away in peace. (This may not be exactly factual but it’s the way I remember it and that’s good enough for me.)

Anyway, my brothers, my sister, my nieces and nephews all went to say their goodbyes10931127_10204543328837488_6014411360357330344_n but my Mom, who always had a strong will, just kept hanging on, as if she was waiting for something. That is what prompted my sister to call.

You see, I live in FL, I was just diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s about 2 1/2 months previously and I was only driving sparingly. Making a trip at that point was not possible.
Anyway, my sister called and said, “Everyone has been by to see Momma, everyone but you. I know you can’t be here physically but I think she is holding on to hear your voice. I’m going to put you on speakerphone and I want you to tell her good-bye and that it’s OK to go.”
It was the hardest, yet the most beautiful thing I have ever done.

So, I had a “one-sided” conversation with my Mom. I told her about my Alzheimer’s diagnosis and since we shared so many things in our lives (I was the youngest and a bit spoiled by my Mom and my sister) why not share Alzheimer’s as well.  I told her how well I was being taken care of by Shannon, Asheton and Bradley and how I couldn’t feel more loved.
I then told her that it was OK to go. It seems she had taken care of so many people during her lifetime that maybe she felt she still had more to do. I let her know that everyone was in a good place and that she could now go where she could finally rest. (like I said before, this may not be EXACTLY what I said, but it’s what I remember).

My sister told me that while she was listening to my voice, there was eye movement under her eyelids as if she was aware. I’m not sure if that was possible but because we know so little about Alzheimer’s, anything is possible. I don’t remember if I sang to her to her or not (we shared a love of music as well as singing) but I would like to think I did. I told her I loved her and then spoke to my sister gain.

A few hours later, I received another phone call to let me know she was gone.

As hard as I try, I don’t remember anything of the days that followed. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’m sure they were filled with sadness and I’m probably better off not remembering.

All of this makes me wonder . . . “Do people in the last stages of Alzheimer’s still hear and understand but just can’t communicate back?” I hope so. I hope I can still hear the voices of my loved ones when my time comes. I want to hear their voices and music and all the things that make me happy. I can only hope.

Next year, I don’t know know if I will forget this day again but if I do, I hope someone will remind me. For now, for today, while I still do remember, I will think fondly of the woman who . . .
– gave me life
– taught me to always open doors for people – especially ladies and the elderly
– to say yes sir and yes ma’am
– taught me to always carry a handkerchief
– shared with me her love of music and gave me my singing voice
– loved me unconditionally and with all her heart

I love you Mom and always will.
Rest in Eternal Peace. Hope Dad isn’t bothering you too much and I’ll see you soon.
At that time, we’ll find some place to sit, put on the Sound of Music soundtrack, sing and reminisce . . . clearly.

Until then, I will keep on keepin’ on, trying not to burden Shannon and the kids too much and continue doing what I do and I do it in honor of YOU!

PEACE
B