Saturday, March 15, 2008

Life with Alzheimer's...Part Two...

Here is a picture of Mom and some of her family. From right to left: I'm next to her, then my sister, my gentle giant son, three nieces, my youngest son, and one of my brothers. My husband took this picture at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM where my dad, a WWII vet, is buried. Notice the glimpse of mountains in the background. The cemetery sits on a hill where you can see various mountain ranges in every direction you look. It's beautiful!

Back to my story...

I shared my concerns that Christmas with my sister, who lives about an hour from Mom and Dad. She'd noticed some oddities, too, but I don't think either of us could imagine the seriousness and sadness of what was to come.

It wasn't until two years later that we finally accepted the fact that there was something seriously wrong with Mom. Her memory loss went beyond her usual I-can't-find-my-glasses forgetfulness. She couldn't remember basic things, like how to cook, and often left things burning on the stove top, which left me frantic with worry at times, 700 miles away and unable to help them manage day-to-day life. We also had Dad to worry about. He was on dialysis three times a week for five hours a day, along with other health issues. We kids came to the conclusion no kids want to come to: Our parents could no longer care for themselves without help. Daddy, at 82 years of age, was adamant that he would not move to an assisted living facility. He wanted to stay (and die, I believe) in the house he built himself more than fifty years ago. My oldest brother and sis-in-law, who were living in gorgeous Santa Barbara, CA at the time, willingly volunteered to pack up and move to Santa Fe to become our parents' full-time caretakers. Words cannot express my gratitude to them for their many, many sacrifices, one of which was leaving their only child, Nicholle, in California where, at 23 years of age, she is making a life for herself but still misses her folks.

You would think that things got better once Steve and Chrys arrived.

They didn't.

(Continued next time)

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