I love Alzheimer’s.
I love the repetitive questions and comments, the confusion, my mother’s frustration over her condition (because so far she’s retained just enough cognitive ability to know there’s something truly wrong and in what ways). I love the hallucinations, the insistence that some older woman and man live in my house along with the rest of us and tell my mom what to do, like “Keep your bedroom door closed or the cat will get in.” (No one ever told her that.) I love not being able to give her a simple piece of information and have it be retained (even though she still remembers the Renaissance fair that happened this summer). I love the realization that she can’t wash her own hair anymore or walk long distances, and needs to be policed when she gets dressed so that she dresses appropriately for the weather. I love that you just don’t know from one moment to the next what she’ll remember and what she won’t, that the madcap scramble of her brain will be almost frighteningly lucid one moment and fall into shadow the next. I love how my life has been turned on its head, how I can’t always do what I want or need to do at a specific moment, how the time for writing (for working on my book, especially) seems to evaporate into the end of the day when I’m usually so bone tired I can’t begin to put two words together.
Yeah, this is a ball.
Alzheimer’s does something else, though, that may not be such a bad thing. It holds up a mirror. This could be me, you find yourself thinking. And it’s true. Alzheimer’s makes no sense, there’s no rhythm or rhyme to who is strikes and when. “Why me?” Mom asks. Why not her? Why not any of us?
Adding to this is the fact that a long-time friend of mine (over 40 years and counting) is undergoing cancer surgery this morning. With luck and prayer, it will prove to be only progressed to Stage 1 and the surgeon will be able to remove all of it and my friend will never have to look back. But what if?
I think about the trip she and I fantasized about taking after our high school graduation, a road trip to Colorado. It never progressed beyond fantasy even to dream. We always had a reason not to go. Now I think that’s dumb. We should have gone. We can still go, if I can convince her. My mother always wanted to own horses. She loves the beasts beyond all reason, and yet never owned one. Now it won’t happen and that’s sad. Sure we all have the pain of unrealized dreams, but it’s worse if you haven’t even tried to make it happen.
For me it’s time to rethink those someday dreams and begin to put them into action because, thanks to Mom and my friend, I realize more than ever that there’s no clue how much time remains.