Living with someone who suffers from Alzheimer's is a hard road. To the outside world my mom appeared normal. To those who saw her occasionally she appeared a little quirky, but to those of us who were around her a lot....it was frightening. After my dad had died and my mom was safely living with 24 hour care at Adam's Nursing Home in Alex City I finally slept all night long. Before this happened I napped and slept in snippets. I would roam the house while everyone was asleep several times during the night to make sure everything was ok. When she was a resident at the nursing home she would really did not know my father was dead. She would ask me if I had seen him....he was working somewhere there. She did not know where there was...it was just there. She would tell me about them eating supper out in town, she would tell me about the picnic they had gone on.....and I felt my heart break....day after day. I went through counseling at the nursing home and several things the staff told me to do. One was never to argue with her or tell her she was mistaken because she would get hostile. The second one I thought was great. They suggested I give her a photo album or calendar and talk about the people in the pictures. I made her a calendar for Christmas one year. I put people on the month who had birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I put her picture on March. That was their anniversary and I located a picture she had given to my dad on their first Christmas. She was beautiful. In the black and white picture she was wearing a jewel necked sweater and pearls. Pearls were my mom's signature piece of jewelry and one of the only pieces of jewelry she ever wore. When we were going through the calendar she asked me who the woman was in March. I missed my cue and told her, "Momma, that's you! Don't you remember giving daddy that picture for your anniversary?" She got so angry and threw the calendar across the room and then told me to go home! I picked up the calendar and left. The incident was never mentioned again. She loved to sing. "What a Friend" and "You Are My Sunshine" were her two favorite songs. One day I decided to do a private concert for the Alzheimer's unit. I cleared it with the activities director and the nurses all prepped the residents for their special treat. When I got there my mom was so excited. Karen was going to be singing for them. I told her that I knew....that it was me. Again she got angry and told me it was NOT me...it was the other Karen. The nurse let her calm down, then picked up the phone and pretended to be talking to the other Karen who was not going to be able to come. My mom jumped in and told them that I was there and had my guitar and I would sing for them all. The crowd loved it. Several of the residents grabbed nurses and danced. I enjoyed giving them a little sunshine in their day. I made sure I sang my mom's two songs....a few times each because she kept requesting them and the other residents joined in and said I had not played them yet. It was one of those shining moments....and for those of you who read this.....with loved ones suffering from this dread disease all I can say is "I am so sorry." I promise you there will come a time when you will laugh.....but it will take a while. I loved my mom and at her funeral sang "What a Friend." It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. God Bless You All today. If you have a family member or friend with Alzheimer's....hug them...especially while they remember who you are.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
8 months ago