Friday, September 21, 2007

Better than Sudoku

I've touched on the fact, a few times, that my mother is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. I keep stating "beginning stages" as she's on medication, and the disease doesn't seem to be advancing quickly, which we are thankful for.

She can still function, in most ways. She can go about her day-to-day to life safely, at this point. She can cook, clean, do the laundry, dress herself, etc. She's at a loss for words, but can usually communicate what she's looking for; She can't remember she was at "Hallmark," but she does know she was "at that store where you buy greeting cards."

It's an odd, impish disease. Her numbers are gone. Time, date, and costs are lost. She can look at a phone number and dial it, but she can not write one down. She will confidently announce that she has 2000 popsicles in her freezer. The year is 1905. Ask her for any number, and her mind goes "SPROI-YOINGGgggggggg."

We work around this. So far the most inconvenient result is the time-telling. If I tell her I will pick her up for a doctor appointment at 11:00 a.m., she will rise at 4 in the morning, shower, dress, and wait. I know this, and call her early on these days, tell she can go back to bed.

The alphabet has taken a strange hop. She's an avid reader, reads novels and the newspaper daily, and comprehends what she's reading. Writing and spelling, however, are touch-and-go. Phone messages and grocery lists are a challenge.

It's frustrating to her at times, but you know what? We get by. Our problems are as big as we make them, and this one...we just roll with it. Be polite. Find a solution. No worries, we got it.

And sometimes, we just have to laugh.

I picked her up Tuesday evening, to take her. grocery shopping. She handed me a list to read over, and I began trying to decipher it. It's not always clear, and I try to avoid bringing to attention any errors. It's often a matter of solving a puzzle: "6T" is 60.

Tuesday, I found:

Apples! Easy. Yay, she did it! The next one gave me pause, though:

Bread and Ham, that is. She's crossing her H's at the top these days. Good to know.

The last item on her list, floating beneath random letters and dashes, set me to giggling despite my attempt not to.

I finally had to ask her, as seriously as I could, "Ma, what is this one, do you suppose?"

She gave her list a serious look, frowned, then she looked at me... and then started laughing also. She was perplexed for a few minutes as we stood around racking our brains, and then said,

"I know! I know what it is! They give it to you in church!"

Yes! High fives and a little chicken dance, and we were on our way to the Welch's aisle.

Whoo hoo! Triumph!


I'm still going to doublecheck, with my sister, just where, exactly, she's been taking Mom every Sunday morning.

Just to be on the safe side.


  1. There isn't anything wrong with a little crap juice in church now and then.

    I love your mom!

  2. You are a blessing to your mother. That I am sure of.

  3. It is good that you and your sister live so close to your mother and great that you can still share a laugh with one another.

    I have gained more experience of dementia than I would ever want to have. For me it is the most disturbing illness that anyone should have to undergo.

    My mother is in the middle stage and it was depressing to observe her slide from being an independent active lady into the person that she has now turned into.

    The only plus side is that with her almost total loss of short term memory she does not realise what she has lost.

    Fortunately, there is no fixed path for the progression so hopefully your mother will continue in her current state for a long time.

  4. Wow - they must serve the generic juice at her church...

    You are amazing: the kindness and love is clear - obviously, it helps to keep your sense of humor (where appropriate!).

  5. Bless you. You are doing things right by not
    being critical and having a good laugh over some things. Your love will go a long way in helping your Mother cope with her life as it is now.

  6. Nancy: Mmmm, crap juice. Didn't Homer Simpson say that?

    MK: She's a blessing to us also, a real sweetheart.

    DBA: I'm sorry about your mother. I'm sorry about my mother also, and everyone afflicted with this stuff. I understand how difficult it is to "compare" the past situation with the present. What would she have been like today, if we weren't dealing with this, I wonder.

    Wendy: Hilarious, generic juice. I did tell her if she drank too much of that grape juice, crap juice is what she'd end up with. Because I'm a very refined daughter.

    Mary: Thank you for your kind words.

  7. i would of bought her prune juice to help her crap

  8. Oy, this is hard. You're right: laughing is good.

    Crap juice.


  9. My first thought was prune juice also! At least you could both share a laugh about it.

  10. CRAP JUICE?!?!?!? I'm gonna have to stop reading your blog at the office, because these explosive bursts of laughter will get me fired one of these days!!!

    Bless her....


  11. ohhhh, yes, you HAVE to laugh to get through this.....


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