You don’t know this, but my day is upside down! Every Friday, for many, many Fridays, I have looked forward to the 5 (or sometimes 6) minutes where I join in with lots of other writers for Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung’s. I get my kids up and started, I get my mom up and started, I get my kids to school, I get my mom breakfast, clean up, make a giant mug of coffee and turn on my computer….
But not today. The entire day is almost gone. Mom is eating her evening bowl of coffee ice cream and things are settling down for a quiet evening at home. But I just couldn’t settle in without turning on my computer and taking this 5 minutes just for me.
Have you ever seen a familiar face at the market or at a school event or at the gym? Or heard the faint notes of an old song that you somehow know you used to love? Or wanted to tell your husband about something you read on the internet?
And you reached back into your memory to find the name or title and artist or interesting fact. Some names are easier to remember. Sometimes I have to find a bit of the song and start singing to get to the title, but I usually get there.
Not when you suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s buries things. EVERY thing. So far back in your brain that you can’t possibly reach it. Arms aren’t long enough. Patience isn’t enough. Clues no longer jar the memory enough. And still she tries.
She reaches for words – simple names of simple items. Toothbrush gets stuck right on the tip of her tongue. While she’s holding it in her hand. Wondering what she is supposed to do with it.
She reaches for purpose and rhythm and routine. That toothbrush becomes the enemy. Because somewhere in the ALZ brain she knows it is familiar. She knows it has a purpose. She knows she should be able to figure this out. But she can’t reach it.
She reaches for names. Names of people she’s known forever. Faces she’s seen in photographs – many of them photos she took on film she drove to the drug store and paid to have developed. Photos she sorted through in those yellow envelopes and chose specifically for this photo album and that.
And I watch her. And I try and help her. Help her with clues and sounds and hints and hand holding. And she looks at me and knows somehow I am safe…but she has no idea why. She can’t remember. More and more things. More and more names. More and more people.
I’m no longer her daughter, but I am still safety and comfort and love. But it’s getting harder for her to reach. And I’m afraid. Afraid of the day when I can longer reach her….when we can no longer reach each other…