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The Apple of My Eye

My grampa was the apple of my eye, and I was the apple of his. He taught me how to play cribbage, scrabble, do crosswords. When I was young and would stay with my grandparents, he taught me poker and darts as well. He was always so loving and caring, and so much fun.

When I was in my early 30s, financial circumstances forced me to move, and I moved in with my grandparents for about three years. I treasure that time. He had not yet officially been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but the decline was there. When I first moved in, we could still play cribbage if I counted his points, but scrabble was no longer possible. As time went on, even cribbage got to be too much for him. All I could do was spend time with him, talking and asking about memories. I got to hear so many of his navy stories. It was wonderful.

I married and moved out of the area, and only saw him a few more times. He continued to decline, and finally passed just before his 89th birthday. He was both a father figure and grandfather to me, and will always be my hero.

Kymster
Nevada City, CA

You People are all LUCKY!

*I* am saddled with an old woman with Lewy Body dementia. I am THE ONLY ONE in the whole wide world with this responsibility. She is living in her precious falling down house, all alone, except for paid sitters a few hours a day. She was nasty and abusive to me my whole life, but all anyone sees is poor, sweet, confused old dearie, bless her heart! Look at her, still living in her house! Yes, that is because there is nowhere to put her. The only dementia units have a waiting list months if not years long. No assisted living will take dementia. There are very few places that take Medicaid, which I am busting my hump trying to get her on. Mercifully, she has savings and a little income to pay the sitters to come in a few hours a day and pick her up if she fell down, feed her, and take her to her useless doctor appointments.... She can't go into a nursing home because she eats like a starving hog and can shuffle around at warp speed unaided. I am THE ONLY ONE in the whole wide world with the responsibility. If there was a merciful god he would call her home unto his loving bosom. Or at least I could put her in even a dog kennel of a nursing home - but there is nowhere to put her. So she will sit 20 hours a day, alone, filling up a Depends, watching the Kardashians on TV, hardly knowing her own name, living in la-la-land and talking to dead people. Grotesque.

Anonymous
anywhere, NY

A Love Story from the Past

BIll, my father-in-law is a kind, gentle soul who loves his family and is loved by everyone who meets him. He is the grandkids' favorite Pop-pop who used to let them throw him in the pool, wrestle, play make believe; everything one can hope to have in a grandfather. But this is a story of the past.

Barbara Lea, his first wife (childhood sweetheart and great love)--my husband's mom--died of lymphoma when she was just 21 years of age and my husband was 18 months old. Bill subsequently remarried and had two more children; but Bill was so devastated by his loss, he rarely spoke of Barbara Lea to my husband. So he grew up never really knowing his mom. Of all the bad aspects of this horrible disease, the one small light is that as Bill's dementia worsens, he goes back in time to a period of great happiness for him. That time being married to Barbara Lea and taking care of their baby boy together. Bill has been telling my husband stories of his mom and their life together. I see the joy not only in my father-in-law's eyes as he remembers her, but I see the joy in my husband's eyes as he finally gets to know his mom.

Yesmeen
Bowie, MD

My sister Ida.

There are only two of us left in our family of seven. Ida is 88 and i am 82, youngest in the family. Unexpectently Ida's husband Ed died after knee surgery of septic shock. She in Baltimore and I in New Jersey. That was nine years ago. I was unaware that she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and knew she could not be alone in Baltimore. After taking care of her affairs, I brought her to my home in New Jersey and for over a year, as her disease progressed, I enrolled her in the Visiting Nurses. What a wonderful caring place they have. The town provided bus transportation. However, she needed more help and I placed her in an Assisted Living facility nearby. She then progressed to the Alzheimer's ward - the Cottage in that facility.

She is so well taken care of but unable to recognize me. She doesn't hardly ever speak but mouth's the words to God Bless America. I see her at least once or twice a week and attend all the wonderful functions they have for her. She needs assistance to keep her balance; however she is not in a wheelchair nor has a cane.

I have arrangements for her transfer to Baltimore to be with her husband when the time comes. I thank God I am here for her and always will be.

Mary L. Sorensen

Mary L. Sorensen
Warren, NJ

Hi Mary June, It's me Lori

Part III

At Mom's new care center. As I write my name in the visitors log book, I scan through the pages, hoping to see a familiar signature, one who'm Id know that has come to see Mom, as it's been a week and a half since I saw her last. Sadness and guilt tore through me, as there were none, :(

I take note of the not so pleasant smells and a couple of screaming residents begging for help. My eyes begin to tear, and heartbreak hits me once again.

The halls look so dreary, I am determined to get her out in the sunshine. I peak through her door and she is laying in bed sound asleep. I quietly pull up a chair and sit next to her. I gaze at her face just as I remember sneaking into her room as a child at night from being afraid and staring at her in the same way, hoping she'd lift the covers enough for me to crawl in bed next to her. She then begins to wake, I get up to greet her and smile as big as I can, "Hi Mary June, it's me Lori" I've resorted to calling her Mary June as I don't want to confuse her anymore as she no longer knows me as her daughter, she smiles. "I've come to take you outside, fresh air" this makes me happy, as it relinquishes my guilt. She mumbles, "Well, then, okay" I'm pleasantly surprised, I have learned even though her words no longer form complete sentences, If I nod, smile and agree, she's there beaming with a beautiful smile and a whole lotta love!

Looking back through the year, I used to feel sorry for myself, that 'my mother', my own mother has forgotten me, but I know now as I look into her eyes, feel her warm cheek against mine, or hold her hand, or hum a gentle hymn together, that even though her memory of me is gone, she still has SO MUCH LOVE to give, and for that I am grateful.

Lori Andrews
Phoenix, AZ

When the monster wants you, he will get you.

As a little kid, my favorite memory of my dad is him chasing after me in the pool, saying he was Jaws Now he is being chased. He always will be my most favorite person in the world. Our rolls have reversed now and coming to terms with that was difficult. But no where as hard as watching him slip deeper into the unknown. Dad has a few Masters Degrees, he was this brilliant man who seemed to know so much about so many things. He knew that this Alzheimer's monster was chasing after him. Both his parents, his aunts, a sister....they had all already been caught. He read every article he could get his hands on, did all he could to prevent it from catching him. But when the monster wants you, he is going to get you. Dad was in deep denial for many years, he became angry, quiet and isolated. It took my mom becoming very sick and him having a fall while she was in the hospital, for him to get help. He has been in care since December 2012. My mom passed away in October 2013, he doesn't remember her anymore. Which is hard but easier then trying to explain to him why she wasn't there to see him anymore.

He is at the point now where sometimes he knows who I am and sometimes he doesn't. If I can get him to smile, it makes my day.. It happens less these days. I am an only child with no extended family near by, so I am it. Watching him slip away is heart breaking, remembering all the wonderful times I had with him extend all the way back to being a toddler. It has taken three different facilities to find him a place that truly loves him and takes wonderful care of him. He is slipping away more and more each day, but he is treated with dignity, patience and love. I know a day will come where he will be gone, but until then we are in this together. I love you dad.

Janine Jason
Sunnyvale, CA

IT IS WHAT IT IS !

2007 we accepted the fact that my beloved husband's diagnosis was Alzheimers - the dreaded, horrible condition that would take the man I had loved for 53 years and leave a shell. We talked, planned, accepted and then told our three adult children. Their immediate reaction was - we're with you all the way. Praise God our three children, in-law children and our grandchildren have helped every way possible and continue without complaint. It has now been 7 full years and he has entered last stage where he does not know me or his children - this is the hardest of all things to accept. I am a strong person but when he looks at me with fear in his eyes, and he does not know who I am, where he is, who he is - it breaks my heart all over again. The thing that no one prepares the caregiver for is the absolute loneliness - the helplessness, the fear of the unknown and the loss of your best friend, lover, confidant, protector and there is nothing that can be done about it - nothing.

We understand and accept what is but the hurt goes so deep that it interrupts sleep and rest. I go as hard as I can each and every day because to stop and think is unbearable. I involve myself in my home, church, family and cook. I take care of my husband but am fortunate to have around the clock caregivers assistance and our children. Each evening a son-in-law or our son helps me put him to bed-I do the cleaning and dressing because I feel that is my right and responsibility. The grandsons also take turns helping.

One time, before he lost all memory, he apologized that I was having to help him so much. I responded that he had taken such good care of me the first 50 years of marriage so I would take care of him the second 50. He thought for a minute and said but you won't live that long! It is what it is,I love him..

Bernice Pearson
Lavonia, GA

MEMORIES OF SHIRLEY CHAPTER 2

As I entered my adult years, my relationship with my mother changed. We became close, and talked like friends. She would come to my house and visit several weekends a year, and we would watch action movies and eat junk food. She especially loved Chuck Norris, and the Die Hard movies.

We would go to the casino together; how she loved those slot machines! I carry these beautiful memories inside me, even if she cannot.

We would spend the day shopping, for clothes and earrings. She always loved earrings: she still does!!! Then out to lunch.

After she retired, she formed a card club with her friends from Nursing School. She was the catalyst, she would plan, pick up those who didn’t drive; they would go out to eat, and play cards all day.

I am writing these things as a celebration of her life. There is so much heartbreak with this disease, so I try to keep the good times in my heart.

All her nursing friends have passed away; she does not remember them anymore, anyway, which is a blessing. Her husband has passed away. Her sister just died from Alzheimer’s several months ago. She does not remember those things, either. So it is only her. And us, her children.

Yet her will is strong; she gets up every day, spends time at day care, gets taken on outings, and see concerts like The Singing Policeman and Irish Jiggers. She enjoys herself, and is always smiling.

We all laugh with her, love her, and take care of her. We stay upbeat for her, and enjoy her one day at a time.

b.a.roger
Pawtucket, RI

My Mom

Anna Mae is my Mom's name. She passed away 2/14/2014 @ 6p Friday. Valentine's Day. Some may say how sad that she died on a holiday, I say how appropriate. She was born Christmas time. A week before, I was with her at the nursing home where they were trying to keep her comfortable. I knew it was just a matter of time. She sat at a table, I across from her. Music in the background. My Funny Valentine came on the radio, Mom who was just about holding her own began to sway with the music, I said Mom you remember this song? One of your favorites, she looked into my eyes and smiled. The tears flowed from my eyes as I looked into my beloved Mothers eyes and saw the Mom I loved and love so much. The next wednesday I held her in my arms all day and stroked her face and kissed her. She was so weak....the next two days we had a snow storm and I couldn't get to Pennsylvania....then God took her home. Thank you Lord for bringing her to you for eternal peace and happiness.

Alzheimers is cruel. You watch someone you love lose bit by bit on a daily basis. You get to enjoy fleeting moments when they remember. They take you back in time with them when they were of all ages. One day they know you the next they don't. I can only say that my Mom may not have remembered my name but she hugged me, smiled at me and called me her angel.

Never give up on your parents if they are diagnosed with dementia/alzheimers. Be patient, cry, laugh, always be gentle. Do whatever you have to do to make this transition for your parent as easy as possible. Go to every extent to bring them comfort. Never, never stop loving them. They need to be held, to laugh, encourage them, pray for them.

Thank you Eddie(and Lisa) for allowing Mom to continue to live with you when things got harder. Thanks Steve, Dad , Carole God Bless.

Christine
Cranford, NJ

Best Mom in the world

My Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 5 years ago and was a Crossing Guard for almost 30 years...almost everyone in town knew her. She was the glue that held our family together. Once she was diagnosed my sister and I prayed that she would 'go home' before she forgot us and her grandchildren. Mom had 'functioning' Alzheimer's and was still able to do a lot of everyday things, but once she was diagnosed she was told by her doctor that she had to give up her Cross Guard job and she was devastated (as were we). Mom handled it well, like the strong woman that she has always been and continued to be 'our Mom' for many more years. A few months ago she got a very bad UTI that advanced her Alzheimer's faster than we could blink...but she still remembered us :) My Mom passed away two months later and with her last breath, she told me that she loves me...best gift I ever received!!! She is missed every second and thought of, by many, every day.

Anonymous
Salem, NH
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