Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

          Throughout the years, I never remember my parents' house without bird feeders in the yard. They loved the birds. Mom bought bird books so she could identify all of the birds in her yard. They bought special seed to attract less common birds. They not only had one bird feeder, but at least three that they filled on a daily basis.

           Here's an excerpt from Chapter One of Alzheimer's Daughter, an account of my parents' last day living independently in their own home.

            "Back at home Ibby waved to her neighbors as they drove to work. On Orchard Lane, their dead-end street, everyone knew everyone. She struggled straightening her stooped spine to pour cracked corn and sunflower seeds into her bird feeder and slowly hobbled to survey her bleak fall yard. She lingered, marveling at the glistening, frozen dew encapsulating late-fall rosebuds. Frost soaked Ibby’s cloth shoes. 

Shivers hastened her back into the warm house. She passed through the cluttered kitchen looking for a snack, peeking in the refrigerator packed with leftovers. Some were edible, others spoiled, but Ibby couldn’t tell the difference.
She looked forward to the lunch and dinner she and Ed would eat at the local restaurant as they had nearly every day for the past six months.

Before Ibby settled in on the couch to wait for Ed she heated a cup of tea in the microwave. The stovetop was piled too high with pots and pans, as well as canned and boxed food, to use the teapot. She idled time away watching cardinals, blue jays and yellow finches flitting on the feeder outside the picture window, whistling to mimic their chirps."

Filling her feeders and mimicking the chirps of her beloved birds were some of Mom last actions in her own home.

Whenever I see birds, especially cardinals, thoughts of Mom and Dad visit me.

Is this the meaning of heaven? Is this eternity——the idea that we are remembered in the minds of those who loved us? Is that how our spirit goes on?

I thank God that I have pleasant memories of my parents. They taught me that life was about more than living in the moment. They taught me about loving others, being kind, loving nature, and seeking the truths of life.  


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