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.