Friday, March 02, 2007

Recaps from recent travels

Here I go again, breaking my rule about not talking about my family in the present, but this shows some of what we go through as our parents get older… The picture is of an Aberdeen and Rockfish train.

It is hard to watch my mother live only in the present. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the summer of 2005, and I saw more of a decline this visit than in the past. She doesn’t remember what has just happened or what was said just a few minutes ago. At least she still remembers who we all are. For a woman who once was very opinionated, she now has no opinions and generally remains quiet unless you ask her a question. We watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on AMC while there. I kept mentioning where all the scenes were shot—most near my old stomping grounds in Utah—and she acted surprised that I’d been there even though she’d visited me there many times. At one point in the movie, when Butch and Sundance were riding away with a posse on their tail, she asked, “Why are they chasing them?” She’d forgotten that in the previous scene, they’d robbed a train. Yet, she is still able to function on a basic level and my father doesn’t have to do everything for her. On the positive side, we were served desert twice one evening. As we had just finished dinner, she picked up the desert bowls and put them over on the counter by the dishwasher, then saw a part of a cake left over from the day before and brought it over and served desert again (this time in plates). That certainly never happened when I was growing up!

On the positive side, my mother’s caring and nurturing nature remains. She and my dad picked me up at the Raleigh Durham airport last Thursday evening. Then we had dinner with my nephew and niece who are students in Raleigh, before driving down to the coast. The next day my brother was over and he asked how the flight was and, in a teasing manner, if they fed me. I jokingly responded that they gave us 6 peanuts (I think the actual total was 12). Hearing this, my mother said, “You should have told us, we’d stopped and gotten something to eat.” She had forgotten about the meal we had with her grandchildren.

While down South, I caught up with an old co-worker from my scouting days that I’d not seen in twenty years. I also took my grandmother out to the store and we ended up visiting some second-hand places—it’s a good thing I was flying and only had one suitcase.

A Special Sighting: At the ACC store in the Raleigh Durham airport, they had bargain basement prices on Duke Lacrosse sweatshirts. I had to chuckle. They were only 12 bucks, but I don’t need one that bad. Although I don’t know all the details, they certainly had some bad press lately and wearing such a sweatshirt seems to be at least politically incorrect.


  1. I'm glad you can still find bits of humor in all of this. I hope that remains in the upcoming months and years. It's hearing stories like yours or of people older than I that have to move their mother or father from a house they have always lived in to a nursing home or 'retirement community' that I view my parents death at a relatively young age as being a plus.

    You should read up about that Duke Lacrosse hullabaloo. You may have bought it then and I don't think wearing it would be politically incorrect especially in your neck of the woods were no one probably knows about news outside of that section of Michigan. ;-)

  2. sage - sorry to hear about your mother's battle with Alzheimmer's - as murf says, thank goodness you retain a sense of humore about it all - I think that is the best way to cope. And eating 2 desserts is also an excellent coping mechanism

  3. Regarding your preference to not talk about family in the present this particular instance, don't you think that talking about it would be a good thing in hopes of finding kindred spirits which may do you and/or them some good? Probably more for others than yourself since you aren't into that 'touchy, feely' stuff. ;-) Just curious.

  4. oh gosh, that reminds me of last summer when my grandmother stayed with me for two weeks. We would have dinner at 5 pm, she would nap for an hour, wake up and ask me when dinner would be ready because she was starving. :)
    After a while of this, I just learned to laugh at it all and realize what she did remember is how much she is loved.

    I once had a math prof. that said rules were meant to be broken. I'm not sure what he meant, but I remembered it for some reason.

  5. I'm not good at finding the right words, just wish my Mom gave me that much desert when I was a kid. Guess she didn't want me to have a big butt like my dads. His reaches the back of his neck!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Sage! I hope you and your family have a nice weekend!

  6. "Let us remember that when we leave this earth we can take with us nothing that we have received-- but only what we have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage."

    An Italian guy named Frank said this once. Mom served you desert twice for Pete's sake! To me getting desert from one's Mom ONCE is a divine got it twice!! Definitely a moment to remember with a smile. Don't lose it!

  7. Murf, I hope I can laugh, but sometimes it's a cover like Smoky Robinson lyrics, "tears for a clown when no one is around."

    As for the Duke Lacrosse team, even if they all turn out to be angels, I still can't see me wearing their sweatshirt--first of all, they're from Duke and secondly, lacrosse isn't my sport

    Thanks Diane! I like that coping idea

    Murf2: You want a touchy feely Sage?

    Peri, sorry to hear about your grandmother, and I agree with your math prof (I tried to tell that to my math profs, but they didn't buy it and gave me a big X anyway)

    Gautami, thanks.

    RC: your site is funny and thanks for the laugh!

    non-Angel, when did Poles start talking to Italians? Thanks for the kind reminders.

  8. I'm really sorry to hear about your mother. You can only remember the good and happy things that you shared when you were both younger.

    Michele sent me here.

  9. As much as I dislike Duke they got hosed on that deal. It was all a sham and I am pretty sure the DA will be disbarred for it if he hasn't already.

    It really did scare their spirit a bit.

    I'm so sorry about your mama. I know it must be hard on you to see her like that. You are lucky that she kept her sweet nurturing nature. Sometimes patients can go the opposite. She sounds like a lovely kind woman even in her sickness.

    (no I haven't read the one you mentioned but it might be something I'd like to read)

  10. Thanks for sharing about your mother. It is sad when one's loved ones and others lose some or much of who they are/were through illnesses such as Alzheimers.

  11. Isn't it sad to think we can lose our memories of the past? i am glad to see you can find ome good n all of it. like second deserts. Michele sent me.

  12. Poignant post. So glad to hear your trip was a pleasant time, even though coping with your Mother's Alzheimer's is difficult. But you relayed a wonderful story about it all in this post, and I, and others, are better for reading it. And glad to hear you and your grandmother had a nice time out as well.

  13. It may be a nice change for a little bit from the Sage that calls someone an idiot for making a simple mistake. ;-)

  14. will pray for your mom and dad.
    my mom is 88 an definitely losing short term memory.

  15. Never thought of you as being politically correct :)

    Alzheimer's is such a difficult thing to face. Sorry to hear of her decline Sage. Despite its sadness, I enjoyed your post .

  16. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. Should spend more time with her and be patience.

    Will keep her in my prayer.

    take care.

  17. I knew my great grandfather for several years before he died but for all those years that I remember him, he never remembered me. It was sad but still a cherished memory for me just the same. Not many people get to know their great grandparents. Every time I eat a green gumdrop to this day, I always remember my great grandfather.

  18. Deana, I'd heard the DA might be disbarred--it was on the news when I was down there, but like you, I couldn't imagine wearing a Duke shirt--but when they're playing for the NCAA championship I have to root for them (unless they end up playing Carolina)

    Tim, Star, V: Thanks!

    Murf, a simple mistake? Not hardly, she was stoned!

    Thanks David and Ginger.

    Kontan, thanks for the affirmation about me not being politically correct (one of the advantages of an anonymous blogs

    Ed, you'll have to enlighten us on the green gumdrops!

  19. Sage, I am sorry about your mother. It is so hard to watch them decline from whatever. But, dessert twice, that's special!!