Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.
Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.
I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.
I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.
Monday, August 5, 2013
My son, daughter, and nephew, their spouses, young children, and babies spent time with us at a family cabin in the woods last weekend. Fifteen people in all, ranging from the itty bitty (size of two sacks of sugar) to the small (weighing about as much as a bag of topsoil) to the full-grown crammed in one small place.
Before family arrived, my hubby and I worked in a flurry, fixing food, mowing the yard, doing laundry, and vacuuming mouse droppings and dead bugs out of the corners.
It occurred to me that my parents, must have scurried around like this thirty to forty years ago, anticipating the visits my sister and I and our families made to the cabin. I remember meals of sweet corn, green beans and tomatoes from the garden, along with burgers and hotdogs sizzling over the fire pit. After somemores, we'd load sticky sweaty kids with dirty feet into the car to sleep on the way home. As we'd back out of the drive, Mom and Dad would lean together, her head nestled into his shoulder, waving goodbye.
I felt the warmth of Mom and Dad's spirits hovering as their great grandchildren created a hullabaloo at the cabin. Adults heaped love on the new little ones they'd not yet met. Babies crawled, babies wailed, toddlers and preschoolers pretended to fix things with a toy tool kit, imagining they camped in tents under the dinner table, all while blowing bubbles and having tea parties.
As my family packed sleepy kids into the cars, while waving goodbye, I spotted a brilliant red male and muted female cardinal flitting around the yard. I tried to catch them on camera, but they were too shy to be photographed, instead I whispered, Thanks, Mom and Dad, for teaching us that nothing is more important than time for family.