Pajamas (Photo credit: pirate johnny)

I was in my pajamas by five o’clock this afternoon.  Some days are like that.

It started out okay.  I got a decent amount of sleep for a change.  (Insomnia has been my companion for too damn long.)  Cool morning, which totally works for me.  Made it out to the trail by quarter of seven, walked Holly for two and a half miles.  (Would have been longer, but I needed to pee.  Yes, I know; TMI.)  Holly got to see one of her “boyfriends,” a cool hound named Hank who, unfortunately, has sprouted several rubber drains courtesy of a massive infection after  being attacked by another dog.  Came home, went through the morning routine, ran some errands…

and that’s when things sort of fell apart.  I was on my way home from Staples when my phone went off.  Certain members of my family have specific ring tones.  My sister Colby has a motorcycle because she rides.  My adopted son Andrew has an old car horn because he loves antique vehicles.   And my mother has a warning klaxon because…well…because.

It was the klaxon that sounded.

Sighing, I pulled over to the side of the road, put on my hazard lights, and answered the phone.  “Hi, Mom.  What’s up?”

“Can you tell me where my family is?”

Slow, deep breath.  “Michelle’s at work.  Cheryl is babysitting.  Michelle will be there tonight.”

“Well, where are the other two kids?”

“What other two kids, Mom?”

Long pause.  “Well, I can’t remember….Melissa’s husband.”



“He’s at work.”

“Wasn’t he here earlier?”

“No, Mom.”

“I could have sworn I had a conversation with him and Michelle and some old lady and Dad.  Dad’s been gone for three hours and I don’t know where he is.”

Another deep breath.  “Mom,” I say cautiously.  “Do you remember what happened to Dad?”

Pause.  “Oh.”  Her voice, formerly somewhat agitated, now sounds dead.  “Yes, I remember.”  Another pause.  When she speaks again, her voice is plaintive.  “When will I stop doing that?”

“It’s only been two months, Mom.  You have to be patient.  This stuff takes time.”

“I suppose.   One of these days you’ll have to lock me up.”

And so it goes.

I wind up the conversation with a promise to call her as soon as I get home.  Then I hang up, but the car back into gear, and drive.  Soon as I get here, I pick up the phone and call.  She has no memory of our prior call, which occurred only twenty minutes earlier.  When I remind her, she can’t believe it.  “Really?  We talked?”

And so it goes.

It’s probably depression that drives me into my pjs; that, and a desire to be comfortable if only for a little while, to have one tiny portion of my psyche relax.  Watching someone you love decline is never easy no matter their age, no matter the illness.  It affects every aspect of your life whether you will it or not.  Even when I’m not the one on-call with her, Mom’s condition lurks in the back of my mind, a constant presence.  I cringe whenever my cell phone rings, anticipating the next problem.  Writing anything but this blog has become problematic.  I persevere because I need to write (and WANT to write) but what used to come easy has become a torturous process…and there’s no end in sight.

I try to be a duck and let it roll off.  I try to “surf the wave,” as someone once put it to me.  Lately, it’s easier to just take a mouthful of metaphysical water and sink to the bottom.

I realize that this blog is the antithesis of the last one, in which I talked about blessings.  I don’t feel very blessed at the moment.  I know I am.  I truly do.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  But right now, this instant, it’s hard to see.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Aging, Alzheimer's, Essays, Family, Melissa Crandall and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Withdrawal

  1. Laurie Andrews-Lester says:


  2. Lynn says:

    Hang in there Melissa! That disease is so horrible. You have the person you love but you don’t. Reach out for support-or just write if that helps. I love reading your blog.

  3. Sometimes it isn’t easy to see the bright side of things. Sometimes there just isn’t a bright side. But it’s comforting to know that there are people out there who care. I will be praying for you.

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