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.

Chapter 4- Journal 2005

* * *
June 23, 1943
My Dearest Ed,
I received your letter of June 17th. Golly, your letters are a bright spot in my life. Every time I read them I think, “I couldn’t possibly love him more.” They are like sunshine and rain to a flower garden.
Did I tell you Mother and Dad hung wallpaper in the kitchen? It really looks elegant.
Peter is home on his last furlough before he’s shipped out, so he and Lydia came to the farm for supper tonight. Mother, Daddy, Dottie, and I said our goodbyes, hugged him and prayed, “God, please protect Peter.”  It was so hard. He has been wonderful to Lydia. They were very happy together. Lydia’s taking him to the train herself, honey. She and Peter have had a few years together, anyway.
Keep your chin up and don’t forget to pray.
I love you with all my heart and thank God our love is founded on the solid rock of faith, trust, and hope, thus making it unshakable. Married people have gone haywire, but we will weather the storm, I feel certain.
If it is your lot to be sent overseas, I believe you will return unharmed. No matter what may happen, you will know I will always love you with all my heart.
Always remember, sweetheart, you can do anything you think you can. My heart is with you, my faith, my love.
Honey, I baked cookies for you this afternoon. I hope they come through OK. Sweetheart, my faith says you will come out in fine shape, even though the Army is a hard grind.
You are never out of my thoughts; you’re even in my dreams at night.
Yours forever,
* * *
March 5, 2005
            In the midst of teaching twenty-seven third graders, helping my daughter find a wedding dress, bridal showers, and all things wedding, the situation with Mom and Dad is worsening. Mom has become repetitive, calling me by phone to ask for information about doctor’s appointments and an upcoming trip to my sister’s home in Florida. Then she calls again, asking the same question within minutes, forgetting she’s already talked with me. She tries to write information down to help her remember, then loses the notes in a massive clutter of paperwork on her kitchen counter, none of which she’ll let me help her sort and organize. On many of these return calls, she dials the wrong number by mistake and becomes frustrated when someone else answers. I make repeated trips to my Mom and Dad’s house in the evenings and on the weekends to clarify. I buy a large desktop calendar to keep by the phone to help her function...