Alzheimer's in Motion
Early one morning when I was visiting my parents, I got up and went downstairs for my first cuppa coffee.
A couple of minutes later, my Dad slowly walked into the kitchen clad in his red fuzzy robe. I don't know if he knows me, so I say "Hi Dad, it's your daughter Andrea." After saying "Good morning 'Dre" he walks over to the security alarm panel (which Mom keeps on at night, in case he tries to leave the house) and points at it. He asks "Do you know how to turn this thingamabob off?" And I answer (and yes, lie) "No, Dad, I don't live here anymore so I don't know." He shrugs and makes his way to the family room.
As he walks into the family room, it's clear he doesn't know where to go, so I encourage him to sit in his leather chair, on one side of the coffee table. Mom's chair and her ash tray, are on the other side by the phone with her calendar and one of her many 3 x 5 inch index cards she uses to keep track of stuff..
Dad sits down in his recliner, looks over and then points to the ash tray, saying "Oh a smoker lives here."
Dad's memory is a constant "yay" and "nay." Last year it would skip around right in front of me, from complete alertness to blankness to sorrow. Now the lack of recall lasts longer—and for all that is still so very jarring.
I am a fan of the reality TV show "So You Think You Can Dance." And last night, I watched last week's episode, which included a dance routine about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's and her husband.
The dance portrayed the couple as she shifted rapidly between frustration, confusion and gladness as she recognized her beloved husband and then saw him as a total stranger.
I wept, reminded of my Mom and Dad as they move through the soul wrenching and yet incredibly touching dance of their marriage and Alzheimer's.
Thank you to Tessandra Chavez for your compassionate and real choreography, and to Ja Ja and Alex for your lyrical and honest steps.