>My husband, my lovely, sweet, generous husband’s mother is sinking into the miasma of Alzheimer’s and it is unraveling him.
I watched my father dance around the edges of dementia as he limped into his nineties, but he did continue to take in new information and even upbraid me with his Irish rancor when I repeated myself after he had processed and owned the new facts. But Nana is losing all sense of who she was, who her kids are, if she even has kids. She questions why she is living in this house, the home she lived in with her husband and seven kids for nearly 50 years.
Nana has settled herself in her late teens and early twenties. When she looks at old photographs of herself and her not yet husband, and all their friends at parties, visiting Atlantic City from Washington D.C. and she can tell you all their names, where she bought the fabulous hat and what they ate for dinner at the crab shack. But she often doesn’t know my husband, can’t recall that he is married and has two kids; and that makes him sad.
I watched my mother, near the end of her life, not really altered by Alzheimer’s, but shot up on morphine, and anti-depressants to get her through her life after a stroke. She was very interested in going to the place where her parents and her cousin lived. Both my mother and her cousin Robert were only children and they were raised more as siblings than just cousins. My mom adored Robert, a few years older than she, and there are photos of her trialing after him with a look of adoration spread across her grimy little face. Robert was a Navel pilot, shot down over Tokyo Bay and never found. My mother kept a picture of him, all gap toothed grin, smiling out. As she got near the end of her life she was in her late twenties and waiting to go to a party where Robert and her long-dead parents would be in attendance. Kind of a wonderful notion. For my mother.
But tough for those who don’t seem to make it into your conscientiousness. It sometimes made me feel as if I was diminished in her eyes. Why didn’t she want to return to the time when I was little or, graduating from school, or giving her grandkids?
It made me wonder, into what time would I retreat? Young mother with baby children, carefree romps in fields as a child myself, producing plays, gardening. I can’t predict what time will most captivate me. And as I think about that notion, I try to continue to make incredible memories, so when the time comes to revisit whatever moments my inner projector chooses; I will have a giant bank from which to choose.
I am content that Nana has a place to retreat when times are tough; but I am sorry my husband feels so sad when he sees her and has to confront the realization that he and his brothers and sisters are often not a part of the place where Nana has gone.
Life and old age are not for the faint of heart.