Monday, October 13, 2008

I Can't Remember What I Forgot!

I know. It sounds like a circular statement, doesn't it? Rather senseless. But that's exactly where some folks find themselves in their golden (?) years.

We've had guests in our home since Friday evening. They left this morning to return to their home in KY. This dear lady has always been brilliant, and continues to be in certain ways. But she has the beginnings of Alzheimer's, and carrying on a normal conversation is a challenge. Every time she would see our little dog she would comment, "What a pretty little dog? Now where did you get him?" I would retell the story that I had told at least 10 times before, but it always seemed new to her. She asked about the welfare of our kids and grandkids more times than I care to remember. But one incident struck me as especially sad. This lady has always been a nice dresser and well-kept. When they came in on Friday evening (coming to our house straight from the funeral home, where they were paying their respects to the family of a young woman who died recently) I noticed right away that the lady had a run in her hose that was halfway around her leg. This wasn't a run, it was total deterioration! I didn't want to mention it, because I didn't want to embarrass her. When they came in from the funeral on Saturday (her husband officiated), I noticed that she had the same hose on again. Her husband noticed it when she sat down and pointed it out to her, asking her to be sure she changed into something better before going out again. She looked down at her leg in genuine shock saying, "Oh, yes. I just did that a few minutes ago!" I didn't say anything, but I knew she had been wearing that same pair of ruined hose since arriving at our house the day before. Sadly, she got out of the house Sunday morning in the same pair of hose! This time, when they got home, her husband followed her into the bedroom, making sure that she disposed of the "holey" hose. She was a little miffed at him, because I think she thought he was pointing out flaws. That wasn't his intention at all.

I listen to their interchanges and watch her trying to remember what has been said 15 minutes before, and my heart aches. Why do bad things happen to good people? I don't know - but they do. She left to return home in a dress that was badly soiled down the front of the bodice. That never would have happened five years ago. She had too much pride. Maybe that's the sadness in this whole thing. She has been totally stripped of pride. It doesn't matter anymore, because she doesn't remember from one minute until the next what she's said or done, where she's been or who she's seen. Her long-term memory is still surprisingly sharp most times, but that doesn't help her in carrying on conversations with her family and friends. Her husband said he prays daily for patience in answering her questions time and time again -- the same questions, the same answers. One thing this visit has taught me, friendship transcends all problems. Lasting friendships aren't broken when one becomes "less" than they were before. In some ways, it may even strengthen the relationship. Isn't that a precious thought?

So, someday I may not be able to remember what I forgot. But will you still like me? Will you continue to be my friend? I'm worth it!


Blessed Mama said...

That makes me so sad. Mom said she remembered her but asked her the same questions over and over, too. It's heartbreaking to see such an brilliant woman "deteriorating" like that.

Josh, Tammy, Gideon Dalton said...

You will always be my friend, even if you forget who I am :-)

Josh's mom went through this the month before she passed due to the meds she was on...totally broke my heart. One night I looked for Josh's shoes for almost an hour with her so Josh could go to his play date. It was easier emotionally sometimes to go along with her than to point out that Josh was a grown person now...